Bush, the man who has become firmly ensconced as a wartime president, has scored three successes recently. One can either welcome them or feel threatened by them, but to ignore them would be a mistake.
First, there has been noticeable improvement on the Iraqi war front.... Americans are not against war itself, they just don't like losing.
Second, Bush dominates his party's search for a suitable presidential candidate, and he does so without voicing a preference for any of the candidates. Instead, he exerts control by dictating the job description. According to Bush, the right man for the job would not be an economic expert or a seasoned diplomat, but a sheriff, a man with nerves of steel, a man who can lead. Of course, for Bush being a strong leader means, first and foremost, leading the nation into war.
All of the Republican candidates are going to great lengths to display at least a minimum of toughness and boldness, along with a healthy dose of lunacy...
The issues important to the Democrats -- poverty, healthcare reform and the looming climate catastrophe -- pale in comparison to the Iraq war.
The Bush agenda -- wage war! -- is the country's agenda. His goal -- victory! -- sets the tone for the 2008 presidential race. And the mood he has created -- fear of further terrorist attacks -- has taken hold among the majority of voters. For the American public, even a narrow-minded view of reality is still a reality.
ADDED: My son John emails:
"Second, Bush dominates his party's search for a suitable presidential candidate, and he does so without voicing a preference for any of the candidates. Instead, he exerts control by dictating the job description."
Seems to me that this German newspaper has it backwards. Most of the Republican candidates are running as the anti-Bush, though they can't say so explicitly. The big subtext of the Giuliani and Romney campaigns is that it's all about competency. The obvious implication is that we're desperately in need of competency because there's been so little of it in the Bush administration. The only candidate who's really trying to fit Bush's "job description" is Thompson, who doesn't seem to be doing very well.
Also, I can't believe you excerpted this without comment:
"The issues important to the Democrats -- poverty..."
Huh?! Edwards is the only Democratic candidate who has emphasized poverty. The other Democratic candidates notably did not follow his lead. And even Edwards hasn't really talked about it in the last few debates.