A rotten President's re-election considered
Here's a great article by Mark Danner about how Bush pretty much won by scaring the piss out of everyone that terrorists are going to bomb their children and eat their pets, so they'd better vote for him because John Kerry is gonna laugh when it happens. The most telling thing about the Bush campaign strategy is how it deliberately infantilizes his supporters to make them feel helpless so that only Big Poppa Smirking Asshole can save them.
"If your babies were left all alone in the dead of night, who would you rather have setting there on the porch – John Kerry and his snowboard or George W. with his shotgun?" – Sean Michaels, professional wrestler, warming up the crowd, Tinker Field, Oct. 30, 2004
Personally, I would rather have someone I know for a fact once chased down a gunman while under fire to save his fellow soliders than someone who hid away in the National Guard. But the problem with those all-to-real comparisons is that metaphorically speaking, using Kerry's story as a story of the potential leader's bravery makes the rest of us, metaphorically speaking that is, other soliders. Bush's appeal to the 101st Fighting Keyboardists and the like is that he looks you in the eye and tells you that there's nothing braver than being a sniveling coward.
In a few blunt lines Bush had subsumed everything else beneath the preeminent shining banner of the war on terror, and subsumed that war beneath his own reputation for forthrightness, decisiveness, and strength. And he had identified uncertainty, hesitation, vacillation – even the sort of nit-picking that would seek to separate the war in Iraq from the war on terror – as not simply mistaken or foolish but dangerous. "Relentless"..."Steadfast"... Determined": these words came fast and strong, again and again. And then the climactic line: "We will fight the terrorists across the globe so we do not have to fight them here at home!"
It drew a huge response...
It's a great line that delivers two conflicting messages and soothes people's moral worries about the war. "We will fight" tells the audience that they are braver than those simpering Democrats, because dammit, they will fight. "Across the globe" undermines the fear the bravery can inspire and reminds the audience that they won't have to do any actual fighting.
It's a common advertising technique to overwhelm the audience with so much conflicting information that they just hang up trying to figure out what's going on and just rely on their emotions and desires to tell them what to do. And the Republicans have that particular technique down cold.