Quest for the Presidency, 1992

By Peter L. Goldman; Thomas M. Defrank et al. | Go to book overview

27.
The Search for a Silver Bullet

A seven o'clock one evening in late September, a senior staffer at Bush / Quayle '92 headquarters looked up from his paperwork and saw his boss, Bob Teeter, looming in his office doorway. There was no point asking Teeter if he had come with good news, since there never was any. The president was thirteen points behind Bill Clinton in the campaign's polling, and the computer maps on the walls appeared to have been colored in by a child whose blue-for-Bush Crayola had long since got lost. The landscape of America was practically all Clinton red, 397 electoral votes' worth. The deepening gloom had begun to infect everybody, even Bush's own family.

The staff man awaited his orders.

"Find me something," Teeter said.

The staffer, lost in his chores, had only half-heard him.

"Find me something," Teeter said again.

"What?" the staffer asked.

"Find me something that will win the election," Teeter said, smiling wanly and walking away.

The something they were looking for, by that stage, was the silver bullet that would bring Clinton down; it was a given, in the White House and on Fifteenth Street, that Bush was not going to win a second term with advertisements for himself. He had spent a year shuffling identities like a pack of cards, from Lion of the Desert to Man with a Plan to Archdeacon of Family Values to Son of Harry Truman to Man with Another Plan. None of them had worked. Neither had his renomination in Houston, which had brought him only a faint and fleeting bounce. His approval rating in the polls was near Jimmy Carter's historic low for a president seeking reelection, and he still seemed mired at or around 40 percent of the vote in what was then still a two-way race with Clinton. "We're stuck," Jim Baker told a friend in mid-September. "Nothing's happening. It's stagnant out there."

The reelection team had tried fixing Bush, if only as a prelude to his

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Quest for the Presidency, 1992
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • I - A Quiet National Crisis 1
  • 1 - The Autumn of a President 3
  • 2 - The Age of Anxiety 11
  • 3 - The Winds of Rebellion 20
  • II - The Challenger 29
  • 4 - The Man Who Would Be President 31
  • 5 - Waiting for Godot 48
  • 6 - The Look of a Winner 73
  • 7 - The Scent of a Woman 89
  • 8 - The Comeback Kid 126
  • 9 - Goin' Home 156
  • 10 - The Downside of Charisma 185
  • 11 - The Doom Crier 208
  • 12 - The Manhattan Project 245
  • 13 - The Man from Hope 269
  • III - The President 295
  • 14 - Where Was George? 297
  • 15 - The War against the Crown 318
  • 16 - The Last Inaction Hero 341
  • 17 - He Doesn't Get It 358
  • 18 - The Quayle Hunt 368
  • 19 - The Return of Little Brother 387
  • 20 - This Way to the Jihad 398
  • IV - The Billionaire 411
  • 21 - Citizen Perot 413
  • 22 - The Age of Innocence 424
  • 23 - The War of the Worlds 436
  • 24 - Point Counterpoint 449
  • 25 - The Long Goodbye 463
  • V - The Choice 481
  • 26 - The Boys on the Bus 483
  • 27 - The Search for a Silver Bullet 508
  • 28 - The Second Coming 538
  • 29 - Nine Days in October 553
  • 30 - To the Wire 579
  • Appendix - The Campaign Papers 615
  • Index 736
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