What, then, are the fair expectations? How do I judge the next four years?
Things I do not expect of Bush:
- Peace in Iraq. Not because I think he’s incapable of it, but because I think it’s an incredibly difficult problem. I wouldn’t have expected Kerry to make Iraq work either.
Things I am willing to judge him on:
- North Korea. He needs to make progress. I define that as North Korea reducing the number of nuclear weapons on hand without actually using them. He said he could do this with his approach, and he needs to follow through.
- Iran. See above. If Iran gets nukes in the next four years, I’ll count that against Bush.
- High school graduation rates. They need to be better, over the next four years, than they were during — let’s be fair, let’s say Clinton’s second term.
- Homes. 7 million new, occupied homes within the next four years. It’s part of his platform.
- No new draft.
- Reduction in terrorism. More US citizens died in terrorist attacks in 2003 than died in 2004. On the other hand, fewer people overall died in terrorist attacks in 2003 than in 2002. I’m gonna use two numbers as the benchmark, as reported by the State Department — overall deaths and overall number of people wounded. US military personnel will be filtered out.
- Deficit halved by 2008. Again, it’s part of his platform.
- Robot probes on the Moon by 2008. This is kinda cheaty of me, but hell, he promised and I’d like to see it.
- A national election in Iraq in January 2004 with 60%+ turnout and 90%+ of the country able to vote.
Things I’m deliberately leaving out:
- Jobs. I don’t know how to measure them; I haven’t done the research necessary for me to feel comfortable picking one stat or the other.
- Reduce the number of abortions performed in this country. This isn’t there for two reasons: a) the CDC is not publishing statistics on this, and b) I don’t think it’s a relevant metric for measuring the health of the country.
What am I missing? I’m trying to keep it to things he’s said he could do and things that are reasonable to expect. And are any of these unfair?
11/07/2004: North Korea can’t reduce the number of weapons by using them; Mars mission refined to reflect his actual promise; US military personnel filtered out of the casualty stats (since long-term success may require short-term sacrifice); added a list of things I’m leaving out on purpose; added election in Iraq in January.