Now that Howard Dean is gone, conservatives seem to be thinking about this election as a rerun of 1984 instead of 1972. Noemie Emery has a fascinating piece in the current Weekly Standard on the comparison. In 1984, as today, the White House was occupied by a Republican president whom Democrats regarded as “”dumb, dangerous, and a distorter of facts.” That was a description of Ronald Reagan, by the way, and not Kerry on George Bush.

“In 1982, there were mass demonstrations in Europe against Reagan’s deployment of Pershing missiles. In 2002 there were mass demonstrations against Bush’s war in Iraq,” the Standard notes. In 1984, as today, the Democrats wanted a president who saw the “complexities” of world politics instead of an “ignorant ideologue.” “He goes on to make the case for a more sophisticated way of dealing with the Soviet Union,” Elizabeth Drew wrote in the New Yorker of Walter Mondale.

The Democrats seem inclined to wage a similar campaign against Bush. It didn’t work against Reagan. But there were some notable differences between 1984 and 2004. Emery notes that Bush, a man who must read threat reports each morning, will have a harder time projecting a morning in America theme.

The most important difference, though, is that the current occupant of the White House won’t be able to brag about his most singular achievement: “Bush dare not run on his biggest success’the fact that there have been no new attacks on American soil’for fear that a big one may hit tomorrow,” writes Emery. “Nor can he look for a stable political climate. An unforeseen turn in the war on terror could alter the race overnight.”