If you live in America and even have a passing interest in politics, you will either love or hate Bush. Chances are that if you are an international resident alien (that term is indeed degrading, if you stop to think), you most definitely will hate him. But if you examine his campaign and presidency objectively, you will wonder how he is holding a double-digit lead over his rival, John Kerry.

Bush is waging a virtually lost war in the Middle East and the country he invaded is on the brink of a civil war. The American casualties have crossed a thousand — a third of the number killed on 9/11. He has made more enemies than friends all over the world. Erstwhile allies have turned into vitriolic opponents who deride American aggression as diktats of a tyrant in a tantrum. America doesn’t feel anymore safer even after a $200 billion [and counting] war. Lies and cover-ups are almost a every day story and have become an alarming regularity of the current administration. The atrocities at Abu Gharib have blurred the distinctions between a civilized society and barbaric one. The defense secretary still holds on to his seat while the misguided intelligence buck is being passed on to the perennial whipping boys at the CIA. Terrorism has spread its tentacles to other powers of the world like Russia and Spain, in spite of a “systemic war on terror”.

Personally Bush hasn’t been yet able to explain the holes in his National Guard service and the obvious pull that his family deployed to let him avoid an unnecessary albeit real war. The sugar-coating of evaluations seems plausible although the official records are proven to be forgeries. Domestically, jobs are vanishing faster than they can be created, a bludgeoning deficit is a fact and talks to borrowing funds from Medicare and Social Security are no longer mere worst-case scenarios. Corporate misappropriations pointed all the way up to the White House The nation is as polarized as it can be and divisive politics like proposing a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage is given top priority. The VP uses an F word in the Senate and later likens a vote to Kerry as support to terrorists (remember “Either you are with us or against us” line) America is at an all-time low, in spite of the rosy picture painted by the Republicans. You can sense the fear and apprehension all around.

Yet the incumbent President enjoys a double digit lead. I find this baffling. Is the electorate burying its head in the sand and refusing to see the stark reality? Has it been carried away in jingoistic rhetoric hovering on few keywords like freedom, terror and God? Semantic Overload offers a plausible explanation by segregating the demographics into Republican and Democrat voters, which have further distanced from each other with a tiny (less than 3-4%) undecided voter base. But in spite of the ideological differences, isn’t incompetence punishable these days? Other democratic nations routinely punish incumbent governments for failing to deliver; the latest being the Indian election. Joe Klein at Time elaborates more on the Democrat puzzlement over using the American mess to their advantages. It turns out that Republicans are simply good at marketing themselves and Democrats are slow to whip up frenzy over a minor goof up. But yet all the marketing doesn’t change the ground realities, will the American electorate wake up in time or Bush will just coast to victory?

I bet he is chuckling away to glory at the naiveté of American voters.