Election More About Bush Than Kerry, Says Baylor Prof

Oct. 26, 2004

by Julie Campbell Carlson

Dr. David Nichols, associate professor at Baylor University and author of The Myth of the Modern Presidency, says that the presidential election is more a referendum on the incumbent George W. Bush.

"My general take on the election is that it is more about Bush than about John Kerry," Nichols said. "Kerry must convince people that the country is in bad shape, and Bush can cast doubt on Kerry's leadership abilities. But if people think Bush has led the country in the wrong direction it won't do much good. The war in Iraq is central here, but I think the broad theme is more important than any particular issues."

As for Kerry's leadership style, Nichols says, "Kerry repeatedly says I have a plan or I have a five point plan, suggesting that this is why he will be a better leader than Bush. This may appeal to bureaucrats and academics but this is not most people's idea of leadership. Nobody had a plan for 9/11 and nobody will have a plan for the next unforeseen crisis. Moreover when action is needed, you want someone who will act, not someone who will always find reasons for inaction and delay, and who will develop detailed plans that will never be implemented. Bush can admit that leadership will result in mistakes and miscalculations, but the alternative is paralysis."

Nichols, who came to Baylor this year after being director of the Honors Program at Montclair State University, is the co-editor of Reading in American Government and author of numerous articles on American politics, politics and film and politics and literature. He is at work on Partisan Realignment, Presidential Leadership, and Political Community; Shakespeare and Machiavelli: The Development of Liberalism (with Pamela Jensen, Vickie Sullivan and Michael Zuckert); "The Supreme Court and the Separation of Powers;" and "Defining Heroism: The Evolution of the Bogart Character" in Political Philosophy Comes to Rick's: Casablanca and American Civic Culture, Lexington Press. He is a former chair of the Politics and Literature section of the American Political Science Association.

Nichols can comment on a number of election issues, including a history of the electoral college and a defense of that institution; political parties; Constitutional law; and the U.S. Supreme Court.

To reach Nichols, call (254) 710-3551.

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