Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Politics in the Era of the MTV Attention Span

I wanted to comment on this, because I've seen a number of similar stories to this one on CSM essentially predicting doom for the Democrats because the economy is doing so well and we got Saddam. These people clearly don't follow politics much. Or if they do, don't pay attention. If they had they would have realized that anything that happens right now is utterly irrelevant to the general election. This will be ancient, ancient history by November of next year. The political attention span of this country is about 3 months. And that is being really generous. What happens this December means nothing. What happens next September, on the other hand, is everything. If there is still fighting and bloodshed in Iraq by next fall, if we're still seeing domestic and international terrorist activity, it will be obvious that Saddam's capture didn't buy us much, and nobody will care. If there is peace and prosperity in Iraq and the new government is off to a roaring start, it wouldn't have mattered if we had never caught Saddam. Either way, whether things are good or bad, Saddam becomes irrelevant. The economy is no different. If the economy is headed south by the fall, this will look like a fool's rally in a long string of poor economic performances. If a strong recovery is taking hold by next fall, then Bush has a strong accomplishment to run on. In either case, voters will be thinking about the fall 2004 economy when they go to the polls, not the fall 2003 economy. It all comes down to what happens when the campaign for the general election is running.

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