Re: The terrorism meme

From: Wade T.Smith (wade_smith@harvard.edu)
Date: Sat 09 Nov 2002 - 17:08:26 GMT

  • Next message: Grant Callaghan: "Re: The terrorism meme"

    On Saturday, November 9, 2002, at 10:48 , Grant Callaghan wrote:

    > 1. How do the leaders of our country get people to follow their lead?
    >
    > 2. Do they use religion to demonstrate their goodness and the right to
    > lead?

    East and West, Voters Explain the Bush Effect

    By KATHARINE Q. SEELYE

    http://www.nytimes.com/2002/11/09/politics/campaigns/09VOTE.html?pagewanted= print&position=top

    Ray Hannemann is a Democrat who voted for Al Gore in 2000. But he followed President Bush's advice this week and voted for a Republican, John E. Sununu, for the Senate in New Hampshire and says he is likely to vote for Mr. Bush in 2004.

    "I'm against terrorism, and I agree we have to go after Iraq," said Mr. Hannemann, 56, who unloads delivery trucks at Home Depot.

    Of the president, he said, "I like his hard nose."

    The votes of people like Mr. Hannemann, who lives in a Democratic ward in Manchester, tipped the scales in favor of Mr. Sununu in a close race against Gov. Jeanne Shaheen, the Democrat, and helped Republicans regain control of the Senate.

    As President Bush basks in the afterglow of his historic midterm acquisition of one-party rule in Washington, he can hang another pelt on the wall: the newfound support of Democrats like Mr. Hannemann.

    Interviews with dozens of voters in New Hampshire, Colorado and Maryland three states that experienced close elections on Tuesday show that Mr. Bush is enjoying unusually positive feelings from voters in both parties. He has won over many Gore voters and solidified his standing among Republicans.

    Granted, hard-core Democrats remained as unhappy with him as they always had been and said they dreaded the prospect of the Republican Party's controlling both houses of Congress and the White House. But virtually no one who was interviewed said they had gone from liking Mr. Bush at the outset of his administration to disliking him now.

    Ultimately, Mr. Bush's success seems to stem from what voters describe as a combination of personal appeal and a toughness that increased his stature after the terrorist attacks last year.

    Manchester, N.H.

    An older industrial city, Manchester has shifted from manufacturing to software and electronics. Its unemployment rate of 4.5 percent is lower than the national average of 5.7 percent. Democrats account for 38 percent of the city's voters, Republicans for 36 percent and the unaffiliated for 25 percent. But Mr. Sununu edged ahead of Ms. Shaheen in the city, an early indication that he would win statewide.

    President Bush campaigned in New Hampshire the Friday before Election Day, telling voters, "The people of this state want down-to-earth, plain-speaking members representing them, and that is exactly what John Sununu is."

    That down-to-earth quality seems to be exactly what voters like Caren Grady also like about Mr. Bush.

    A couple of years ago, her husband went to the Mall of New Hampshire to pick up a sandwich. The place was temporarily blocked by security guards because Barbara Bush, the president's mother, was getting a sandwich there, too.

    "They're just like us," Mrs. Grady, 51, owner of a sports memorabilia shop, said. "They're not having something brought in special just for them."

    "Their daughters seem to be normal kids, too," Mrs. Grady said of the president's children. "They seem to get in the same kind of little scrapes that all kids do."

    Lauren Arute, 25, a financial analyst who was having a drink at the Backroom restaurant, said she voted for Mr. Gore. "But I think he's done a marvelous job," Ms. Arute said of the president. "He's very American he goes running and things. I think people can relate to him a lot."

    Similarly, her companion, Nick Pringle, 29, an aspiring firefighter, voted for Mr. Gore but now prefers Mr. Bush. "He's handled everything better than I think Gore would have done," Mr. Pringle said. "Bush came out as more of a warrior."

    Hard-core Democrats, of course, remain skeptical of the president and are especially worried about what he might do with unchecked control in Washington.

    Chuck Meade, 50, a lawyer from Bedford, said over his breakfast at Greg's Place that he was angered by "Bush's willingness to attack countries around the world." He added: "I'm troubled by the Republican Party's arrogance, not respecting the rest of the world's opinions. I'm troubled by the potential judicial appointments. I think this administration is going to establish legal precedents for the next 40 years on the Supreme Court."

    Mr. Meade voted for Mr. Gore in 2000 and Ms. Shaheen on Tuesday. He said he was surprised at how well Mr. Bush presented himself after last year's attacks, but not enough to vote for him in 2004.

    Other Democrats saw no redeeming qualities to Mr. Bush.

    "If you take the war out of the picture, what has he done?" asked Kathleen Kelley-Broder, 31, who sells insurance and was dining at the Backroom with fellow Democratic members of the school board, all of whom had lost re-election. "The economy hasn't improved, and there's still no health care."

    Rockville, Md.

    Rockville, a town full of federal government workers, has a liberal slant and is one of the most-Democratic districts represented by a Republican. On Tuesday, Christopher Van Hollen, a Democrat, beat Representative Constance A. Morella, a moderate Republican who had represented the district since 1986. Mr. Van Hollen won 106,575 votes, or 52 percent, compared with Mrs. Morella's 97,847 votes, or 48 percent.

    Most voters interviewed said that they were thinking of local issues, but that Mr. Bush was never far from their thoughts.

    Adele Winters, 55, a geriatric care manager shopping at a strip mall and a Democrat, said she voted for Mr. Van Hollen because she was afraid of giving Mr. Bush too much power. She also said, "I was concerned about judiciary appointments because to my mind, that has real long-term consequences."

    Ms. Winters also hates the idea of war with Iraq, and she said Mr. Bush was "not tuned in to nuance," and called his leadership style "too black and white."

    Still, she said, the terrorist attacks made him more articulate and focused. "But philosophically and ideologically, it has also hardened him," she added.

    Guy Wilson, 53, said he saw little difference between Mr. Van Hollen and Mrs. Morella on issues, but he, too, considered the balance of power in voting for Mr. Van Hollen.

    "I didn't want both the House and the Senate to be Republican," Mr. Wilson said. "Having some kind of alternative voice might control judicial appointments, attacks on the environment, civil liberties and the deficit."

    Ronald Laufer, 43, who works for a wholesale foods company and is a registered Republican, said he voted for Democrats this time.

    Mr. Laufer said he supported the president but was worried about the war, especially when it looked as if Mr. Bush was going to go it alone, without United Nations approval. He worries now that domestic concerns will get short shrift and has little faith that the Republicans will get anything done.

    "You would expect them to be very united," Mr. Laufer said. "But it never turns out that way."

    Arnold Silver, a Democrat who works for the Department of Health and Human Services, voted for Mrs. Morella to reward her for being good to federal workers, he said. Thoughts of the war and the balance of power, which he is concerned about, did not enter into his vote.

    Mr. Silver's focus on local issues was shared by Geri Holly, who works for a federal realty investment trust company and gave her age as under 50. A Democrat, she voted for Mrs. Morella because the congresswoman has done a "terrific" job. Mr. Bush, whom she supports in general, had little to do with her vote despite her misgivings about going to war.

    "This was basically a local political race for me," Ms. Holly said.

    LIZETTE ALVAREZ

    Jefferson County, Colo.

    Jefferson County, which borders Denver, is the quintessential American suburb of urban sprawl with strip malls and a mix of working-class, middle-class and upper-income residents. With a population of 527,056, it is Colorado's second-most-populous county after Denver County and one of the fastest growing.

    It has 139,654 Republicans and 102,859 Democrats, and played a vital role in re-electing Senator Wayne Allard, a Republican, over his Democratic challenger, Tom Strickland. The statewide total was 50.9 percent for Mr. Allard to 45.6 percent for Mr. Strickland, virtually the identical margin in Jefferson County.

    In interviews at Einstein's Bagels, voters who liked President Bush said they admired his strength and integrity.

    Aimee Didonato, 25, a registered nurse and a Republican who voted for Mr. Allard, said Mr. Bush gave her a sense of security.

    "I don't get the sense he would back down to anybody," Ms. Didonato said. "He does what he says and he follows through in everything he does. That's what makes me feel secure that if we go to war with Iraq, he'll come through."

    Others were lukewarm toward the president. Cherie Gilbert, 25, a hairdresser and former Democrat, voted for Mr. Allard, saying, "I'm generally happy with Bush." She added: "The economy is not so great, but I don't know if it all falls on his shoulders. Everything is cyclical; it had to come down. But he has more integrity than Clinton."

    Integrity mattered also to Holly Bodine, 48, a part-time administrator at a hospital. "Personally and politically, I think Bush has a tremendous amount of integrity," she said. She said she also supported him on Iraq. "I don't want an all-out war," she said, "but I agree that it is necessary to make a pre-emptive strike so it won't happen again."

    Democrats were dismissive of the president. Kathleen Krager, 47, a Democrat and transportation engineer, had nothing good to say about Mr. Bush. "Nothing," Ms. Krager said. "He's not a bright man. He's surrounded by power-hungry people looking for a war with Iraq."

    Britany Clayton, 23, a recent college graduate looking for a job as a graphic designer, and who voted for Mr. Strickland, said of Mr. Bush:
    "He makes me nervous. It's not that I don't like him, but some of his ideas are nerve-racking, especially on women's rights issues and tax cuts, a bad idea. I just graduated from college, and he has not made it very easy for people like me to get a job. It's because of the economy. I hold him responsible, very much so."

    James Bludworth, 33, a freelance photographer and a Democrat, did not like Mr. Bush at all. "He just scares me as the guy in charge with his finger on the button," Mr. Bludworth said.

    His preference?

    "I watch `The West Wing,' and I kind of wish Martin Sheen could be the president," Mr. Bludworth said. "He's so much more thoughtful. I don't have the feeling that the same kind of thoughtfulness is in the Bush White House."

    MICHAEL JANOFSKY

    Copyright The New York Times Company

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