ad info

CNN.com
 MAIN PAGE
 WORLD
 U.S.
 LOCAL
* POLITICS
 election 2000
 guide: gov.,sen.,rep.
 TIME
 analysis
 community
 WEATHER
 BUSINESS
 SPORTS
 TECHNOLOGY
 SPACE
 HEALTH
 ENTERTAINMENT
 BOOKS
 TRAVEL
 FOOD
 ARTS & STYLE
 NATURE
 IN-DEPTH
 ANALYSIS
 myCNN

 Headline News brief
 news quiz
 daily almanac

  MULTIMEDIA:
 video
 video archive
 audio
 multimedia showcase
 more services

  E-MAIL:
Subscribe to one of our news e-mail lists.
Enter your address:
Or:
Get a free e-mail account

 DISCUSSION:
 message boards
 chat
 feedback

  CNN WEB SITES:
CNN Websites
 AsiaNow
 En Español
 Em Português
 Svenska
 Norge
 Danmark
 Italian

 FASTER ACCESS:
 europe
 japan

 TIME INC. SITES:
 CNN NETWORKS:
Networks image
 more networks
 transcripts

 SITE INFO:
 help
 contents
 search
 ad info
 jobs

 WEB SERVICES:

 TIME on politics TIME CNN/AllPolitics CNN/AllPolitics - Storypage, with TIME and TIME

Tucker Carlson analysis: The coming Bush panic?

By Tucker Carlson/CNN

December 7, 1999
Web posted at: 12:28 p.m. EST (1728 GMT)

It may be hard to believe, but George W. Bush's famous smirk isn't half as annoying in person. In fact it's sort of appealing, just like the rest of his weird facial expressions, his sarcasm and his frequently garbled pronunciations. When you're with Bush, it's hard not to like these qualities, and the crowds he wades through at political events usually do.

Unfortunately for him, almost nothing about Bush comes over well on television. He seems tense and strained, even snappish. His performance at the Republican primary debate in Arizona last night was particularly uncomfortable. At times, Bush seemed intent on confirming all the worst stereotypes about him -- that he is shallow, unserious, and out of his depth on questions of policy.

Consider the colloquy between Bush and Steve Forbes. During the second half of the debate, Forbes asked Bush a wonky but fairly clever question: How would you, as president, reduce the domestic price of oil? Bush's initial answer -- "more exploration" -- was convincing enough (and, as important, non-threatening to his many supporters in the oil industry). But when Forbes pushed him to explain how, precisely, his administration would respond to rising oil costs, Bush fell apart. His answer: "We'd keep plans in place to say to our drillers, 'Keep on exploring.'"

Read that sentence again. Try to figure out what it means.

Stumped? That's because the sentence doesn't mean anything. Bush didn't answer the question. This is odd behavior. Bush grew up in Midland, an oil town. His father worked in the oil business. He is the two-term governor of an oil-producing state. For years he ran his own oil company. George W. Bush ought to know a lot about oil. And he probably does. But for whatever reason he came off during the debate as a man only faintly familiar with the petroleum industry.

Bush cannot afford too many more episodes like this one. He remains, by a dramatic margin, the front-runner. Yet according to polls, Bush's greatest strength is his perceived strength. In other words, Republican voters like him because they think he can beat the Democrat nominee in November. But as he continues to exhibit weakness in public forums, Bush's campaign could turn out to resemble a volatile tech stock: Once investors sense that a company has been wildly overvalued -- or that Bush isn't as capable a candidate as he was thought to be -- they flee, one by one at first, then en masse. A panic ensues.

At this point, it's an unlikely scenario. Bush still has a great deal of money and an extensive and sophisticated campaign network throughout the country. On the other hand, it's starting to look less unlikely every day. If the Bush market does crash, John McCain is almost certain to be the beneficiary. Which may explain why McCain looked unusually merry at the Arizona debate.

Tucker Carlson is a CNN political analyst and contributes to The Weekly Standard and Talk magazines.


ELECTION 2000

For GOP contenders, another state, a new debate format (12-6-99)

NHPrimary.com: Gore serves as 'anniversary gift' for couple (12-6-99)

Des Moines Register: Bradley courts Gore constituencies (12-6-99)

MORE HEADLINES


THE STATES

Who are your elected officials? What is the past presidential vote and number of electoral votes in your state? Find out with these state political and election facts.


WHAT'S AT STAKE

What's at stake in Election 2000
Senate Overview
House Overview
Governors Overview


CANDIDATE BIOS

Quick takes on the White House hopefuls.


CALENDAR

See how quickly the primary and caucus season will take off with this calendar.


WHO'S IN-WHO'S OUT

Who is running, who isn't running and who has already dropped out? Check out our tally sheet.


RACES

If you need to know who's up in 1999 or 2000 and what seats are open launch this quick guide.


POLLS

Check out the latest numbers or dig back into the poll archives.


FOLLOW THE MONEY

How much money have the candidates raised? Here are their quarterly reports to the Federal Election Commission.


'TOONS
Lost in space

Bill Mitchell: Lost in space (12-6-99)

More 'toons


E-MAIL UPDATES

Receive news about a candidate by e-mail.

Your e-mail address: Mind-it Button


MESSAGE BOARDS

GOP Presidential Primary


TIME THIS WEEK

Bush's new fraternity brothers



MORE STORIES:

Tuesday, December 7, 1999

Search CNN/AllPolitics
          Enter keyword(s)       go    help





© 1999 Cable News Network, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.
Who we are.