My case for George “Dubya” as Bush-lite: A third less IQ points than your regular presidential candidate and definitely less fulfilling.

Call me disillusioned, but if Republican presidential aspirant George W. Bush (aka Dubya, aka Bush-lite, aka Shrub) indeed turns out to be our next president, I volunteer to lead the banzai charge over the cliffs of insanity. Long the presumptive GOP nominee, Bush has spent recent weeks running an incredibly incompetent presidential campaign. That fact alone should make people think twice about voting for him, but for those slow on the uptake, let’s breakdown the problems one by one.

First, Bush’s campaign spending has been excessive and wasteful. He started by amassing a $60 million war chest, the largest in the history of presidential politics. He’s already spent most of it, and the results are hardly promising: At this stage he’s neck-and-neck with McCain in the delegate count, and McCain’s spent less than half as much. Going forward, the $1000 limit on individual donors means Bush’s well is going to run dry eventually.

Worse, his expenditures are idiotic. Bush spent $2 million in Arizona, Senator John McCain’s home state, all while knowing that he had no chance at victory there. This move has been called “stupid,” “embarrassing,” and “a complete waste.” And that’s by Bush supporters. Current figures peg Bush’s cash-on-hand at about $10 million. McCain has between $8-$9 million. Money, expected to be a huge Bush advantage, has become almost no advantage whatsoever, but as I’ll detail later, Bush has a very necessary ace up his sleeve in this regard.

Second, Bush has made some startlingly poor campaign decisions. Foremost amongst these has got to be his visit to Bob Jones University, a conservative South Carolina school renowned for its strident anti-Catholic sentiments (among other things). This was the political equivalent of handing McCain a bat and telling him to take a few swings at the ol’ Bush noggin. (Note to Bush and Bob Jones U: I married an active Catholic, and I’ve yet to find any evidence to suggest that Catholicism is “satanic,” though my wife’s plum tart may qualify as demonic.)

During the Reagan Administration, school president Bob Jones III called Bush’s father “the devil” and former Secretary of State Alexander Haig “a monster in human flesh and a demon-possessed instrument to destroy America.” Now the bit about Haig, especially to those of us who’ve seen his congressional testimony on the murder of the nuns in El Salvador, seems both fair and impartial. But why this university would invite the spawn of the devil to speak to its students is as mystifying as Dubya’s acceptance of their offer.

Third, the decision to run a campaign of “inevitability,” wherein voters should vote for Bush simply because he’s going to win anyway, does nothing but upset the rank-and-file Republicans who, perhaps even more than the Democrats, hate being told they have no say whatsoever in their own nomination process. This is one of the things that’s led to voter after voter saying that they’d really like to wipe that smug look of self-assurance off Bush’s face. I volunteer to lead the banzai charge here, too.

Fourth, Bush’s ever-widening gulf between message and action has people wondering. How seriously can you take someone who complains about negative campaigning and then runs his own negative ads? And what of Bush’s self-applied label as the “compassionate conservative”? If executing old ladies is what defines compassionate conservatism in Texas, I dare say that there must be a special southern dictionary I’ve not yet read.

Fifth, the Democratic and Independent crossover voters have been killing Bush. They vote for the more moderate McCain in huge numbers and have apparently blind-sided the Bush campaign who can’t get over the fact that for these voters, all the Republican establishment endorsements in the world don’t amount to a hill of beans. In fact, as we saw in Michigan, they might even be detrimental.

Finally—and I’ll grant that this is more a personal opinion than anything else—Bush is an idiot. You can put it anyway you like (a few cans short of a six pack, elevator doesn’t go all the way to the top, all hat and no cattle), Bush is an empty suit in the mold of Dan Quayle. I watched an extended interview with the man, and I’m afraid he’s depressingly stupid. One very important question-and-answer went something like this:

Interviewer: “What situations might call for US military intervention in foreign lands?”

Bush: “Those situations where the US has a strategic national interest.”

Interviewer: “And what’s an example of that?”

Bush: “Where the US has a strategic national interest.”

Thank you, Einstein. I kid you not when I say that “Dubya” just has no clue. He’s memorized the flashcards, but he has no idea how to explain what the words mean. After the interview was over I had this picture of him as president facing some foreign crisis and needing to call Papa Bush to figure out what the hell to do. “Uh, Dad, is this a national strategic interest? Could you go over what that is one more time?” For all of Clinton’s faults—and God knows we ran out of numbers for counting them years ago—he’s a really bright guy, and when it comes time for the voting, I for one would really prefer that my candidate have a relatively high wattage bulb, if you take my meaning.

All of the above not withstanding, I still firmly expect Bush to be the Republican nominee for president because there is just too much organizational Republican establishment support behind him to stop the steamroller. You could give Howdy Doody the level of political backing that Dubya’s received, and he’d win the nomination. That McCain is even considered a possibility only speaks to what a lousy job Bush has done.

Ironically, even if Bush continues his horrid campaign—and it looks like he will: Today Bush apologized for the Bob Jones University affair; six days ago he said he’d never apologize for his campaign—but even if he keeps giving us this dipstick routine, he’s holding a special ace up the sleeve in the form of campaign spending limits. Bush, you see, didn’t accept federal matching funds and is consequently free to spend as much money as he pleases.

Ironically, McCain, who’s been trying to reform campaign finance laws for years, had to take the federal matching funds and can legally only spend $40.5 million, most of which he already has. At current spending levels, he will be at the limit either on or just after Super Tuesday. Need I add that not enough delegates are at stake in Super Tuesday for McCain to win the nomination? Worse still, the two big states following Super Tuesday are Texas (where Bush is governor) and Florida (where Bush’s brother Jeb is governor).

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Bush will be the Republican presidential nominee.