Why Clarke Helped Bush

Dick Morris: “If voters are focused on terrorism on Election Day, Bush will win. If their gaze is on economic issues, Kerry is likely to prevail. The struggle between the two candidates is, at its core, a competition between these two issues for domination of the national agenda.

In this context, what happened last week?

Superficially, Bush was on the defensive as Richard Clarke testified that he was not sufficiently focused on al Qaeda, had failed to respond appropriately to the 9/11 attacks and was preoccupied with Iraq. The daily tracking polls of Scott Rasmussen indicated that Kerry went from two points behind Bush when the flap started to three ahead at its peak. Rasmussen shows, however, that Kerry has since lost his lead and the race is now, again, even.

But what really happened was that the nation’s focus was further diverted from the economy onto the issue of terrorism. Kerry is not about to close the huge gap Bush has opened up on this issue. No matter what negatives emerge on Bush’s conduct in dealing with terrorism, it will still be the president’s issue.” —NY Post op-ed