Lame duck blues
By Doug Patton
George W. Bush has spent the last four years and nine months in Washington ignoring Harry Truman's warning.
First, he reached out to his Democrat opponents in Congress by allowing Ted Kennedy to write the 2001 education bill. Of course, Kennedy did what liberals always do when it comes to education: to the delight of the powerful, left-wing teacher's unions, he jettisoned all the proposals in the bill that might actually have improved education, like school choice, while dutifully expanding the federal government's power to dictate policy to local school districts.
In the summer of 2001, the president disappointed nearly everyone by approving research on "existing" embryonic stem cell lines. Many conservatives thought it was too much, while the Left proclaimed that it was not enough.
Then came September 11th, and the brief bipartisanship that was only possible because of the national unity most Americans expected of their leaders at that moment. It was one of the few moments of his presidency when Bush appeared ready to fight the political battles that would be necessary to defeat his opposition. He went into Afghanistan with nearly unanimous support from the American people. He was leading the nation where it needed to go, without regard to his political opposition.
The president exhibited the same leadership to pass the third largest tax relief package in the history of the country, legislation widely credited with staving off a deep recession in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.
But by the fall of 2002, the president was again reaching out to Democrats. He managed to get the support he needed to liberate Iraq from a generation of tyranny at the hands of Saddam Hussein, but it wasn't long before Truman's axiom was back in play.
By last year's presidential election, the hatred of Bush by the loony left had so overwhelmed the Democratic Party that it was apparent Michael Moore and George Soros were calling the shots. Meanwhile, the Democratic National Committee elected Howard Dean as it's new chairman. And think of the Democrats in the United States Senate who are now speaking for their party. They are not their reasonable voices.
These are not people with whom the president can compromise. Their views are extreme, some bordering on fascism, and to attempt reconciliation with them is tantamount to playing with poisonous snakes. Devoid of any positive political ideas, their agenda has become nothing but a scorched earth campaign of finger pointing and scandal mongering.
Bush should take a lesson from his father's presidency. When Bush 41 "reached out" in good faith to congressional Democrats with an olive branch of tax increases to balance the budget in 1990, they used it against him in the 1992 election. Dubya should have figured out by now that these people are no more his friends than they were his father's.
The last two months have not been good ones for the White House. Following on the heals of the administration's response to Hurricane Katrina and subsequent rising energy prices, the indictment of the vice president's chief of staff on obstruction of justice charges and the withdrawal of Harriet Miers from consideration have driven George W. Bush's poll numbers to new lows.
And after having signed every spending bill Congress has sent him for four and a half years, Democrats are now doing what they inevitably do when their opposition is down: kicking him.
So, what in the world is a president to do? Well, I have a couple of modest proposals. First, in every decision he has to make from now on, from Supreme Court nominees to the war in Iraq, he should completely ignore the advice of Howard Dean, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Diane Feinstein, Chuck Schumer, Dick Durbin, Ted Kennedy, Hillary Clinton and John Kerry.
Then, he should get a dog.
Doug Patton is a freelance columnist who has served as a political speechwriter and policy advisor for federal, state and local candidates, elected officials and public policy organizations. His weekly column can be read in newspapers across the country and on selected Internet web sites, including www.TheConservativeVoice.com and www.GOPUSA.com, where he also serves as the Nebraska editor. Readers can write him at
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