Why Bush will win

Peter Robinson writes on NRO’s Corner

The nation has experienced four wartime presidential elections in which a candidate who was, broadly speaking, anti-war challenged a candidate who was, by contrast, pro-war. In brief:

During the War of 1812, Governor De Witt Clinton of New York attempted to unseat President James Madison, who was running for a second term. Whereas Clinton and his supporters derided the conflict as “Mr. Madison’s war,” Madison insisted instead that the war had proven “just and necessary.”

Madison won.

In 1864, General George McClellan attempted to deny President Abraham Lincoln a second term, accepting the nomination of a Democratic Party that denounced the Civil War as “four years of failure.” Although McClellan argued for a continuation of the war, he attempted to have the issue both ways, making it clear that he remained open to some form of negotiated peace. Lincoln insisted instead on outright victory.

Lincoln won.

In 1968, Hubert Humphrey proved increasingly critical of the war in Vietnam as election day approached. By contrast, Richard Nixon remained committed to the defense of South Vietnam.

Nixon won.

In 1972, George McGovern proved unambiguously dovish, calling for an withdrawal from Vietnam, while Richard Nixon remained, once again, committed to American war aims.

Nixon won.

It’s pretty clear that given the choice between war and peace, Americans, like most people throughout history, will choose war. The wisdom of this is a matter for another debate, but the logical conclusion is hard to escape. Bush is a pro-war President, ergo he will win. You can’t out-martial the Commander-in-Chief, it’s just not possible.