Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Friedman on the Bush Drift

Tom Friedman's New York Times column today offers a pretty fair explanation of what's ailing the Bush team lately. With no vice president preparing to run at the end of the second term, he argues, "his second term is drifting aimlessly, disconnected from the problems facing the country."

"If Mr. Bush had a V.P. who was clearly anointed to succeed him, and whose success would be viewed as part of Mr. Bush's own legacy, it is hard to believe the president wouldn't be interested in a more sane fiscal policy. One thing for sure, his vice president would be.

Instead, Mr. Bush seems to be governing as though he were on a permanent campaign - much like Bill Clinton did. But Bill Clinton was on a permanent presidential campaign. Mr. Bush seems to be governing as if he were on a permanent primary campaign against John McCain in South Carolina.

So far, the second Bush term, to the extent that it has any discernible agenda, seems to be to cater to the far-right wing of his party - period."

If Bush's veep were preparing for an '08 run, Friedman suggests, he wouldn't be taking his current tack on Social Security, energy, "education, competition, health care and pensions." He "would also not be taking the head-in-sand positions he has in opposition to stem cell research, climate change, population control and evolution - positions from which centrist Republicans are now distancing themselves," (good for him, adopting the 'centrist' adjective instead of that m-word that we're slowly abandoning).

"If Mr. Bush's hope is to make the Republican Party into a permanent majority party and sustain his legacy, he would have picked a handful of significant proposals to widen the party's circle - especially with the Democrats so clearly out of ideas. But instead of widening and broadening, by focusing on getting things accomplished that would benefit the vast middle of the country, Mr. Bush is catering to right-wing fetishes.

If this is how he intends to use his political capital, that's his business. But if Mr. Bush had a vice president with an eye on 2008, I have to believe he or she would be saying to the president right now: 'Hey boss. What are you doing? Where are you going? How am I going to get elected running on this dog's breakfast of antiscience, head-in-the-sand policies?'"

Well said, Mr. Friedman. Of course this is all a hypothetical exercise, since Dick Cheney's not running in '08 (except in the nightmares of centrist Americans everywhere), but it's an interesting point to consider.

1 Comments:

At 12:53 PM, Blogger EG said...

There is no basis of fact for Friedman's speculations. Bush certainly did not work in the Centrists' aisle during his first term (e.g., his ban on stem cell research, his approach to ANWAR, Iraq War). Bush tends to take political risks and send messengers out to fend off the attacks. I don't know if I would catergorize him as politically deaf but he has never been one to change policy based on political differences with the majority of voters.

 

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