Wednesday, September 28, 2005

George Bush and The New Malaise

It almost sounds like a band name doesn't it? Ok, a name for a band of velour wearing, coma inducing, Holiday Inn playing no talents, but at least it's a better name than "Murph and Magictones".... which with this reference, W can even play to his base and claim that he is"on a mission from God". Actually, I think he's already done that.

Please tell me it won't get any worse. I've never been a huge W fan, but he has been right on the WOT, stood up to the increasingly insane left ("now with triple the amount of hating action!"), and delivered a rebounding economy through across the board tax cuts. So why has he chosen his second term to do a very good impression of the noted nail pounder, Jimmy Carter? I saw the linked article's headline and thought, "can the malaise speech be far behind?" and sure enough, the very same question is asked by the writer in the first paragraph. I swear, if he starts wearing sweaters and tells us to turn our thermostats down it will get pretty ugly around here.

I'm really beginning to think ole W has just lost his enthusiasm for the job. On one hand who could blame him? Katrina is an excellent example on why I'd be tempted to take a powder. First, the guy is blamed for the faults of local and state governments. Then the press reports a largely false story about the disaster, as if the real disaster wasn't all disastery enough for them. Then Rita hits, and the critics start to complain that Bush is causing a distraction from the relief efforts. Were it me, I'd tell the whole country to go pound sand.

But it isn't me, and I didn't ask for the job. Bush did. Despite winning a majority of the vote, something no candidate has managed since his father won with 53.9% of the vote in 1988, W has seemed oddly detached from his leadership responsibilities. He has been virtually silent regarding the historic success in Afghanistan, spent little time providing leadership on Iraq, mentioned little or nothing about our economic success, and utterly failed to provide any leadership on Social Security reform.

As a result his administration is adrift, and he has left himself vulnerable to critiques from the wackiest of whack jobs. Lunatics from ANSWER and Code Pink allied with the pathetic Cindy Sheehan have managed to gain traction with the demands that the United States surrender to the terrorists in Iraq. Think about that. These people, who are actively anti-American, are demanding that the U.S. surrender to a ragtag group of death fetishists, and Bush has nothing to say! If groups with as little credibility as this can gain ground politically against Bush, one wonders what the late, but unlamented Doe, would have been able to accomplish had Hale-Bopp shown up a couple of years later.

So it seems we're stuck with President Snooze. We might just have been lucky to get him to pay attention for the first term, and now we will have to muddle through this second term as best as we can. I really don't see how this is possible when so much is at stake. We do have the benefit of our opposition though, in that the left is spending so much time hating that responsible liberals haven't really had time to come up with a credible alternative plan.

This status quo won't last forever. Soon, perhaps very soon, some Democrat is going to propose that we raise taxes, despite the fact that government receipts are higher than they've been in the history of the union. We've already seen demands for more anti-poverty spending which ignores the fact that Bush has spent more on such programs than any other president. And of course we have the pro-surrender crowd.

So Bush must wake up and wake up now. He should jump out in front of the budget cutting efforts that are developing offsets to pay for Katrina and go one better by demanding that we come up with twice as many cuts as are needed. I'm sure the vastly overrated Karl Rove can come up with a catchy name for this approach. I'd suggest the "Disaster Relief Down payment".

Next, Snoozy should begin to talk up our continued success in Iraq. The constitution process there is moving along and Bush must make sure that the U.S. gets credit for its ratification which in my view is almost inevitable. It's a sad commentary on our political status, but Bush also needs to continue to sell this war. His enemies on this issue, while not exclusively anti-American, have a very large anti-American contingent that must be defeated. This will only be accomplished by continuing to sell the war at home, and adapting our strategy and tactics on the battlefield. If Bush isn't making the effort with the people, I wonder what kind of direction he is giving our military leaders.

Finally, Bush must push through permanent tax cuts. More than anything else, Bush's across the board rate cuts have been responsible for our rebounding economy. More importantly, the cuts have delivered record government receipts that instead of increasing the deficit, have reduced it. It is imperative that we maintain this momentum, which will allow the Fed to continue to slowly raise rates and fight any renewed chance of inflation.

that's it. Not exactly an expansive agenda for a second term president, but probably all we can hope for at this time. Bush has a responsibility to all Americans that he his not at this time living up to. It's past time for him to end the vacation.

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