He lost the popular and still won the White House. The Democrats spent the next four years seeking to delegitimize him. The media published hoax after hoax to undermine his reelection chances.
Does any of this sound familiar?
Except I’m not referring to Donald Trump. Described above is what President George W. Bush went through during his first term, starting in January 2001. And there are more similarities between Bush and Trump, especially when you see the dynamics around their reelection campaigns.
So let’s take a look back…
In November 2000, Bush lost the popular vote and only barely won the electoral college due to a squeaker of a recount in Florida. And so, as far as the left and the media were concerned, Bush was not a legitimate president; he was selected, not elected, and then the war in Iraq proved he was Hitler.
This meant that as his 2004 reelection bid got closer, the media venom against him was — at least until today — unprecedented. The 24/7 campaign to defeat Bush came to a head when Dan Rather and 60 Minutes used forged documents to falsely claim Bush had been frequently AWOL while serving in the Texas Air National Guard.
Despite all this, Bush not only won reelection; he won a majority of the popular vote with 50.7 percent, the first president to do so since his father in 1988. (Clinton never cracked 50 percent.)
How did this happen?
Well, in the answering of this question, you see just how similar 2004 is to 2020.
- The Economy
Bush enjoyed a solid economy, just like Trump does, and this is why the media worked so hard over this last summer to talk America into a recession. But from the looks of things, the economy is in better shape for Trump today than it was over the summer.
- Media Hatred Backfired
Something our fake news media have never understood is just how much they are loathed by everyday Americans. After Dan Rather was busted, you could see the polls shift in Bush’s favor. The same thing happened in California in 2003 after the far-left L.A. Times dropped a timely hit against Arnold Schwarzenegger about sexual misconduct.
The American people, by and large, know an abuse of power when they see it, and when the media abuse their power, there is oftentimes a backlash.
- Terrible Democrat Opponent
Candidates matter, and Bush’s 2004 opponent, then-Sen. John Kerry, was a terrible candidate. Aloof, elitist, unlikable, phony, humorless, strident… Meanwhile, Bush was charming, down to earth, and had a sense of humor.
When you look at the 2020 Democrat field, it’s a bunch of John Kerrys. Joe Biden might be the best of the bunch, but he’s a corrupt idiot who says the most ridiculous things when he’s not nuzzling some poor child against her will.
Biden also has no charm. All he does is strut around posing as the tough guy, the lunch-bucket guy, and that was the same mistake Kerry made. Both are so insecure about being seen as the alpha males, they come off as insecure and bellicose.
Also, Biden’s strength is supposed to be how he relates to the working class, but the way he and his son Hunter conspired to loot Ukraine and China severely undercuts that image.
Trump’s a legitimately funny and charming guy, a natural alpha male, and since television entered the scene in 1960, the alpha male has won every presidential election.
- Swift Boat Veterans for Truth
Kerry’s strength was supposed to be his service in Vietnam, but when a number of the men who served with him came out to question his various boasts, this became a massive liability. The effort the media put into bullying and discrediting the Swift Boat Veterans only brought more attention to their cause and served to discredit the media, to prove how partisan and untrustworthy they were.
In the end, here’s what the voters saw: John Kerry refused to release his service record, and the media refused to pressure him to release his service record. The whole thing stunk.
In the same way the Swift Boat Veterans refused to buckle to media bullying, that is Donald Trump all over.
There is no amount of the fake media’s “fact check” bullying that will ever intimidate Trump from speaking a truth the media do not want spoken about his opponent.
And you cannot underestimate how important that is.
If you don’t believe me, ask President Mitt Romney.
- Defining Your Opponent
Bush never gets much credit for this, but he was a genius at defining his opponents. In 2000, Al Gore was the great sighing stiff who falsely claimed to have invented the Internet. In 2004, Kerry was the windsurfing Frenchman who married for money and lied about Vietnam.
Bush’s genius was his use of the politics of ridicule, the sharply effective jokes he wielded to diminish his opponent and turn him into a laughingstock.
Trump is even better at this than Bush, as he proved in the quick destruction of his 16 Republican primary challengers.
But those are just the things 2004 and 2020 have in common. There are a number of areas in which Trump is in better shape than Bush.
- No Iraq
By the time the 2004 election came along, Iraq was a nightmare under Bush. Trump has nothing like this on his domestic or foreign policy record.
- Trump’s Initial Victory Was Stronger than Bush’s
In 2000, Bush lost the popular vote (47.9 percent to Al Gore’s 48.4 percent) and won the electoral college by only six votes (271 to 265). What’s more, the state that handed Bush his electoral victory was Florida, and there, he won only by a few hundred votes out of millions.
Trump won the electoral college by a sizable margin — 304 to Hillary Clinton’s 227, and his margins in all of those states were sizable. Trump also earned 63 million votes, nearly 13 million more than Bush.
- Trump’s Economy Is Stronger
The unemployment rate in 2004 was 5.5 percent. Today, the unemployment rate is 3.9 percent.
Wage growth was slipping under Bush. Wage growth is climbing under Trump.
The stock market had a rough 2004 but ended strong. Under Trump, the market continues to hit record after record after record.
- Trumps Brought Back Peace and Prosperity
After 9/11, America was plunged into the War on Terror, which included the disaster that was Bush’s decision to invade Iraq. In 2008, America was hit with a devastating recession without ever feeling a sense of recovery due to Barack Obama putting his big government boot (Obamacare, tax and regulatory increases) on the neck of the free market and American people.
Trump has managed to not only keep us out of stupid wars; he’s finally unleashed a real economic recovery.
For the first time in more than 15 years, America is enjoying both peace and prosperity. That is a helluva record to be able to run on.
- New Media
Back in 2004, New Media was just getting off the ground. Today, New Media is every bit as powerful as the establishment media, if not more, due to the establishment media’s ongoing credibility implosion.
- Social Media
There was no social media to speak of in 2004. Today, social media is the most powerful persuasion tool we have, and the Trump campaign has mastered it, as has his base of support.
All of this is not to say Trump’s reelection is assured or in the bag. It’s not. A whole lot can happen between now and next November, and a whole lot will. But if you are wondering why Democrats are so nervous, and why the media are becoming increasingly shrill, it is in large part due to their memories of 2004, an election Bush had no chance of winning … and did.
Overall, you have to remember that defeating a sitting president is a very difficult task. If you don’t count Gerald Ford, who was not elected, only two presidents in nearly 90 years have lost their quest for a second term: Jimmy Carter in 1980 and George H.W. Bush in 1992.
Both men lost to genuine political superstars — Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton — and were defeated due to economic recessions.
As of now, there is no political superstar or recession on the horizon to challenge Trump.
Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC. Follow his Facebook Page here.