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Monday, June 27, 2005

Quick post

Posted by: Jambo / 4:17 PM

Home with a sick child today so not much chance to blog. I'll have to make do with some bad news for W from the not generally liberal Economist:
Mr Bush's second term is not going well. The most visible disaster remains Iraq... the face of American justice remains the internment camp at Guantánamo Bay, which Mr Bush seems unsure whether to close. A new Pew survey of global attitudes to the United States shows hearts and minds are not being won.

... Things are also going badly at home... The president has spent weeks on the road, flogging his ambitious plan to overhaul the Social Security system—and nobody seems to be buying it.


Meanwhile, his promises to bring the country together after his re-election have faded away. ... Congress is even less popular than he is.


To Mr Bush's many critics, his discomfort is easy to explain: it is the sound of a flock of Texan wild turkeys coming home to roost. This most loathed of presidents is getting his come-uppance for being wrong on just about everything.


We have never shared his enthusiasm for the religious right which is one reason to watch his Supreme Court appointments nervously. And we have long regarded his approach to both fiscal policy and civil liberties as reckless: he deserves all the flak he gets over Guantánamo.


Mr Bush's biggest problem remains execution—a crucial failing in one so ambitious. The mistakes vary from challenge to challenge, but they usually involve three things: mis-selling, an obstinate refusal to change course or personnel and a failure to reach out to opponents.


With Iraq, even Mr Bush's supporters admit that the administration exaggerated Saddam's ties to al-Qaeda. But in some ways, the current blithely optimistic doublespeak is worse. How can Mr Bush say he is “pleased with the progress” there, or Dick Cheney claim that the insurgency is “in the last throes”?


But on many issues his generally admirable resoluteness has descended into pig-headed obstinacy. The only possible explanation for his determination to stick with Donald Rumsfeld, the defence secretary responsible for post-invasion planning and the disasters of Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo, is the misguided assumption that firing him would be a sign of weakness. In fact, it would be a sign that even Mr Bush's friends are accountable. The same goes for Guantánamo itself. Giving terrorist suspects a proper trial is not a risk; it is justice.


But it cannot help the war on terror that so many people regard America as an unprincipled bully. At home, his tactic in the first term of beating up the Democrats, even when they supported his tax cuts, has solidified their opposition—and he is finding it difficult to get anything past them, let alone a project as large as Social Security reform.


More than anything else, Mr Bush's long hot summer represents a failed opportunity. Last November he was given not just a mandate, but a chance to reinvigorate his presidency. He did not take it.

Nothing here we didn't all know, but it is always nice to see it in publications that don't often bash Republicans. (For what it is worth The Economist in the past few years has gotten a lot softer on Bush and company than it used to be. It was always staunchly pro-free market but kept a pretty neutral face on its coverage of American politics. Wonder what has happened?)


I wouldn't call Bush's election a mandate -- except maybe on gay marriage.

By Blogger Hammer, at 9:23 AM  

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