The End of An Endless Campaign

Matt Continetti ponders the long, long road to today's decision:

It's worth revisiting why this has been a long campaign. The reason has nothing to do with when the primaries were scheduled. The early primaries were a symptom, not a cause. The cause is Bush. Starting with Hurricane Katrina, a large portion of the country simply wrote off Bush's presidency. That grew worse as the Iraq war worsened and the Democrats took Congress in 2006. As Jeffrey Bell has pointed out, Bush's dismal popularity has driven all politics ever since. It is the country's desire to move beyond Bush, as well as his lack of a successor, that has made this election last so long and propelled Barack Obama to the edge of the presidency. For these reasons alone, George W. Bush is one of the most consequential presidents in history.

No matter who wins today, Bush has only two-and-a-half months left as president. The Bush effect on American politics will vanish. His successor will determine the next debates, issues, controversies, and scandals. And he will likely be far more popular than Bush 43. The next campaign will not be as long as this one.

Not that this wasn't fun and all, but here's hoping he's right ...

Ross Douthat is a former writer and editor at The Atlantic.

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