After a couple weeks of holidays, it's been hard trying to figure out where to start blogging from: Miers' withdrawal, Libby's indictment, the UN trying to shield Syria, Coburn's amendments to cut pork getting shot down... etc. Instead, I'm going to look ahead from this point.
Where does President George W. Bush go from here? US deaths in Iraq have hit 2,000, which sadly has the anti-war crowd celebrating. Harriet Miers' has withdrawn her nomination for the Supreme Court, which has just about everybody celebrating but Bush. Syria plotted to kill a Lebanese leader, and the leader of the world organization responsible for doing something about it tried to protect Syria instead. Tom Coburn put forward at least two amendments to cut pork, and just 13 Senators voted for it - including just one Democrat, Russ Feingold, who is looking more and more like a great Presidential candidate who sticks to his principles.
Things seem to look terrible for Bush - and yet, I think this is going to turn into a great success story.
Think long-term: There are two major actions Bush made in his first term: Toppling the Hussein regime in Iraq, and the tax cuts/economic policies he implemented. The Iraqi people, for all the horrible things that are still happening there, are progressing very nicely, including passing a constitution - just a couple of years after the war. That is a major success story, and somewhat unprecedented in history. Meanwhile, the economy has been running so well, nobody even brought it up for a while until the hurricanes hit - and yet, GDP rose 3.8% anyway. Bush is - wisely - sticking to his guns and refusing to raise taxes to make up the losses, as taxes would not solve the problem, only exacerbate it; as evidenced by the large rise in tax revenue, despite [re: because of] lower rates.
This forced the country to think of other ways of coming up with revenue - notably, not wasting it on pork projects. Bloggers rallied (and still are rallying) with Porkbusters, while Senator Coburn pushed to cut the pork in the Senate. At the same time, Bush's nomination of Harriet Miers was met with opposition by conservatives and liberals alike, most importantly conservative bloggers. After enough poor feedback and other issues, Miers withdrew. Now, an interesting side note that has come from these issues is the dialogue that has been started between the Republican Party and conservative bloggers (which I've discussed a few times).
Bush, meanwhile, had the time and reasons to refocus.
Toss in the Middle East: In the next 3 years or so, Iraq should slowly grow stronger and stronger. If the US decides to take action against Syria (or Iran, for that matter), the already changing Middle East will learn democracy even faster. Bush's allowing Israel to direct the path they take is proving wise, and forcing the Palestinian people to choose democracy or terror. While it is still unclear which will win out, at least now they are battling over it.
If the President would also work on Social Security, he could go down as one of the most effective Presidents in history. His nomination of Ben Bernake to succeed Alan Greenspan as the Fed chairman was received with... quiet. The little that has been said has been mostly positive - just randomly clicking around on the Democratic Underground shows that the left thinkers believe him to be an excellent choice, much as the right does. If he can help push the neccesity to fix Social Security, to make the tax cuts permanent, and to seriously consider a different tax system, Bush will have covered just about every major issue - both foreign and domestic.
The biggest trick is to let his policies stay in place for as long as possible. Most of Bush's policies take the right approach - long-term fixes so problems do not recur; planned out ideas that do not rely on external revenues (taxes etc.) or fixes to sustain themselves. Unfortunately, many politicians rely on short-term fixes that make people happy enough to keep poll numbers high. It will take a dedicated President to let Bush's policies ride their course and build up this country and the rest of the world.
If - and this is not a small if - the people and politicians of this country can support the President, and if Bush himself can refocus his energies on doing what is in the best interests of this country for the long-term, rather than trying to broker compromises that serve nobody's interests, this country will be far better off. I think that the current situations have allowed Bush to realize this, and we will look back on this somewhat darker hour as the turnaround point of this Presidency. In the end, Bush will utilize this opportunity to push the proper - long-term - agendas and set this country for a healthy, prosperous, and safe future.
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