The dust is settling. The political commentators are beginning to speculate on the changes Bush will make in his Cabinet; my cyberfriends are lamenting Kerry's defeat. I got it partially right--I told everyone that Bush would be re-elected, but I thought he'd get a minority of the popular vote. The fact that Bush took the popular vote, too, is the main one: he now has the legitimacy he lacked in his first term. If, as a cyberfriend wrote, it was idiots and morons who voted for Bush, at least the idiots and morons are the majority, albeit slender majority, of those who managed to get off the couch and go vote. So America is getting the President it wants, if not the President it needs.
The outcome, as an Israeli, doesn't make me too unhappy. I don't like Bush; I think he's got some political smarts, but that he's not really an intelligent man, and I don't think he fully understands how his friends and political cronies exploit him. His fervent Christianity, and the apparent feeling he has that he's a conduit for God's Purposes, sets my teeth on edge. The invasion of Iraq, however sensible strategically--it is geographically absolutely central to controlling the Middle East--was badly designed, fraudulently sold to the American public, and is now in danger of unravelling completely. America, IMHO, isn't any safer than it was prior to 9/11; it's just been lucky.
But--and here's the big "but"-- if Kerry had won, he'd have inherited Bush's mess, both in the foreign and domestic spheres, and he'd have to spend his entire first term coping with the immense deficit, the Iraq problem, etc. It's a thankless job with no guaranty of success. In fact, I think Bush can't tackle the mess he's made (I'm not sure he even wants to try). That means the Democrats will have a much easier task in 2008.
It's my hope that Kerry will run again in 2008, with Hillary as VP candidate. She's young enough to wait a bit, and I'm not sure that America is quite ready for a female US President. Kerry is Quality, and so is she.
Meanwhile, what's going to happen to us? Initially, I don't think there's going to be much change in policy, because of the new joker in the pack: the fact that Arafat's obviously dying. However, if the PA can transfer power without too much infighting, and maintain its hold on the populace, I expect Bush to begin pressing Israel for more concessions "to help the Palestinians" pretty soon. His support for Israel has been a lot more verbal than actual--a fact most American-Israelis who voted for Bush prefer to ignore. The US Embassy is still in Tel Aviv, in spite of Congress decreeing during the Clinton regime that it should move to Jerusalem forthwith.
But if the Palestinian situation, post Arafat, descends into internicine violence, which is a lot more likely, then Bush and Sharon will quietly probably come to some kind of "understanding" and Palestinian statehood and the withdrawal of Israel from Judea and Samaria will be shelved for the time being.
Thus speaketh the Antigonos Oracle. For the moment. Stay tuned...after this message from your sponsor....