What Comes Now
What does this victory mean? First of all, I think it deals the terrorists a harsh blow. Up until yesterday terrorists thought they could see a light at the end of the tunnel. That light is now the oncoming train of the impacable foe of terrorism, George W. Bush. I think this hurts recruitment more than folks may realize just yet.
Bush's election also caused a lot of consternation overseas, which is wonderful. I don't think it's quite sunk in yet just how huge a gamble several foreign leaders took by opposing Bush either through obstruction or noncooperation. Because of the predictable nature of our elections, some of them may have taken the risk that they could work against Bush and not get punished for it should he lose this election. Well, he won, he's here for four years, and the gamble has failed.
What this means, I think, is that Bush will set the terms in a way many don't expect. Michael Hirsh has an article for Newsweek thinks that Bush will moderate his tone internationally. I agree...but not for the same smarmy, condescending reasons Hirsh offers. Hirsh sprinkles his article with "Bush must do this" and "Bush has to do that", which is kind of amusing since this is some journalists telling the leader of the free world what he must and must not do.
I think Bush will moderate his tone not because he is forced to by the demands of foreign leaders but because he knows he has more time. To my mind, Bush has pressed as hard as he has because he thought this policy was necessary for the continued safety of America, and he didn't know if he would be around to finish the job. He couldn't afford to play the stalling games international dithering is so famous for; he had to create a situation that would demand a particular response whether he was the president or someone else was.
In other words, I think the President tried to chart a six-year course that he himself was guaranteed to steer only two years. Now that he has been reelected, though, I think he has the option to pursue a more relaxed approach. He can afford to be more lenient to international demands (if he chooses) because the extra term lets him cement the course of action so that it becomes settled bipartisan policy (as Jay Bryant suggested in that article I linked a couple of posts down.)
It would not surprise me that once again his critics have misunderestimated Bush, thinking his approach was a stylistic or character flaw instead of the necessities of sacrificing temporary international appeal for the long-term future security of his country. Remember, his closest friends keep telling us that Bush uses his intelligence to hide his intelligence. I think this is another case of that.