Tuesday, January 15, 2002

What the Enron Scandal's All About

The Enron "scandal" dominated the Sunday morning talk shows this weekend. There seems to be a lot of fuzzy accusations, but no real meat yet. And it doesn't appear likely there will be at this point.

Here's what I think is going on -- although liberals admire the job Bush has done in office, they'd still rather see someone else in the Oval Office in three years, and would like to see a Democratic majority in both houses of Congress this year. In order to do this, they need to knock GWB down a few pegs, but they can't while the war on terrorism dominates the conversation, in part because he's doing a good job with it, and in part because it would sem unpatriotic. They failed to get traction criticizing the administration for taking away civil liberties, because the public saw the Justice department's measures as neccesary to prevent terrorism.

What to do? Well, try to connect Bush with the recent collapse of a large energy company. Even if there's no smoke or fire, it creates all sorts of ugly associations. First, it associates Bush with the company collapsing, people being our of work, and the downturn of the economy in general. Second, it reminds voters how cozy Bush and Cheney are with energy executives, which the media generally protrays as cigar-smoking bigots who would kill the last living panda if it would make them a dollar richer. Third, it moves the public conversation away from the war on terrorism which favors the Republicans over to the econonomy and the environment, which Democrats think favors them.

So, the image Bush the warrior against terrorism is replaced with the image of Bush the friend of the energy executives who put people out of work and despoil then environment while pocketing huge bonuses. And, by the way, the econmy's in a recession. It'll be intersting to see how this strategy works.
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