Let's give Bush a chance to settle in before we criticize

By Nicholas Sanchez
web posted January 29, 2001

George W. BushPresident George W. Bush is probably getting more unsolicited advice now than he ever has in his life, from both friend and foe alike. Some conservative political groups in Washington feel that he isn't doing enough to push their agenda. Others, like Patricia Ireland of the National Organization for Women, feeling the pain of not having the president's ear any longer, say that he has already done too much. And still there are those political groups (also on the right) that feel that Bush and his advisors are moving forward at just the right pace.

For instance, most pro-lifers cheered at the Bush Administration's announcement that he would block federal money to international organizations that provide abortion counseling and abortions. Yet even as this announcement came on the same day as the 28th anniversary of the Roe vs. Wade decision, some right-to-life leaders bristled that Bush still could be doing more, including Rabbi Yahuda Levin -- an Orthodox Jewish rabbi who is well-known for his pro-life activism.

For what it may be worth, this commentator feels that our new president, George Walker Bush, is moving at about the right pace. Rome did not burn down in a day, and it is going to take a lot to undo the Clinton legacy. Bush and his team need to be given some time to become familiar with their new office and the workings of Washington, DC.

One of the early mistakes that the master politician, Bill Clinton, made in 1993 was that he tried to do too much too soon. Upon assuming office he immediately charged ahead (with a Democratic House and Senate, mind you) with homosexuals in the military (which immediately put him at odds with Colin Powell), a tax hike (the largest in history), and universal health care (all Hail Empress Hillary). As a result of this hyperactivity, Clinton and his advisors looked like a bunch of in-educable boobs: hicks from the South who did not understand the gravity of the presidency. It wasn't long after that the Republicans captured, for the first time in forty years, control of the House and the Senate, and Clinton was shouting aloud, "Look at me! Look at me! I'm still relevant!".

We of course know how this story ended. Clinton ditched the Timex digital watch and poorly stitched suits, covered his pasty white legs, bought some cufflinks and focused on smaller, more achievable, public policy goals. He didn't ignore his base, however. This "salami-slice" approach brought about one of the sharpest political turnarounds since Harry Truman's re-election in 1948; and though Clinton's personal approval ratings are at the bottom of a septic tank, his job performance is astonishingly high.

George Bush and the Republicans should learn from this example. For the Bush presidency to succeed, Bush is going to have to ease his way in. That is not to say that he should not push hard for his goals; nor does it mean that he shouldn't, when necessary, fight with the Congress over his agenda. What it does mean is that he has to be given the chance to set a priority of certain things that he wants to get done during his first year in office, and then assiduously work for their passage through the Congress.

Already, he has made it clear that his $1.6 billion tax cut is high on his list. This is a positive development. Despite the inane rantings of inside the beltway pundits, this is an issue that resonates with the average American. Especially now that everyone's eyes are on the Dow Jones's slipping numbers, people are going to want to hold on to as much of their money as possible. There is, of course, going to be strong opposition from hard-core Democrats in the Senate, but with people like Zell Miller (D-GA) jumping on board, Bush can discount the opposition to his tax-plan as nothing more than "partisan politics" from the other side.

He has also put forth a sensible education package, as well. (I term it sensible not because I have read the details of his plan, but due to the fact that it has rattled the cages of the teachers' unions.)

Defense experts, however, would like him to move a bit quicker on a missile defense system for the United States. The feeling is that for this to be a viable option, Bush needs to begin pushing for this now. On this matter, senior advisors to President Bush have been quick to assure conservative leaders that this is an issue that they are concerned with, and it is something that will be tackled during the first year of this new administration.

In all, conservatives who work professionally in politics are quite optimistic and excited about the prospects of working with the Bush Administration. He has shown himself to be someone who is not afraid to make tough decisions and willing to follow through with his promises. And though there will doubtless be times when conservatives are going to have to "noodge" him one way or another, at least it seems that George W. is open to listening to them.

Nicholas Sanchez is the Free Congress Foundation's Director of Development.




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