Measuring a new president by his first 100 days is arbitrary and unfair. Because the media are using this standard, however, there are some significant achievements of the newborn Bush Administration.
First and foremost, Bush is not Bill Clinton. Does that need elaboration? Bush keeps his word. He seems genuinely humble and respectful of the office he holds. Instead of "defining deviancy down," Bush is defining decency up.
Second, it appears the president will get most of the tax cut he wants. Capitol Hill sources indicate a compromise between Republicans and Democrats would cut taxes by $1.4 trillion over 10 years and increase government spending by six percent. That's too small a cut and too long a time for it to fully take effect but it is a move in the right direction.
Democrats had claimed that tax cuts greater than $500 billion were too large and would ruin the economy but they are now willing to settle for a much larger cut. Under the last Clinton budget, spending increases totaled eight percent. Bush can rightfully claim progress on both taxes and spending. In next year's election, Bush can make his case for voters to send him more Republican tax-cutters and spending reducers.
Following the biggest tax increase in history under Clinton (who subsequently admitted it was too much), Bush looks ready to achieve the biggest tax reduction in history. It shows what can happen when a president sticks to his guns.
Third, and speaking of guns, the United States will make China pay a price for knocking its surveillance plane from the sky and its arms buildup against Taiwan, even while China denies linkage. President Bush will sell Taiwan eight advanced submarines and four Kidd-class destroyers. Taiwan will also get as many as 12 P-3 Orion planes, which are specially designed for marine warfare. The mothballed ships could be delivered as soon as next year. The Aegis missile defense system, which would take 10 years to build and deliver to Taiwan, was not approved. This could change, depending on China's actions. Bush has sent a message of resolve to defend U.S. interests to the Chinese and the world.
Fourth, President Bush appears ready to move ahead with drilling in a small section of Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) despite strong opposition from the environmental lobby. Bush appears convinced that technology specifically designed to extract oil without harming the environment will work and can reduce America's dependence on fickle Middle East oil producers.
Fifth, Bush has taken on the American Bar Association, informing them that they will no longer have "veto" power over judicial appointments.
Sixth, Bush has made his case that government should not discriminate against private sector programs simply because of their religious nature and is winning some converts to his view that those programs often do a better job than government of reforming people.
Seventh, and most important for any president, Bush has established himself as the legitimate President of the United States. After the fiasco surrounding the election, many commentators and some Democrats claimed that Bush would never be accepted.
The media have applied their usual double standard to President Bush. With Clinton, most of the jokes delivered by late-night comedians dealt with his sex life, something that did not directly affect most Americans. With Bush, the media are pulling a Dan Quayle, portraying the new president as stupid, as if his Harvard and Yale degrees were honorary, instead of earned. But Bush is beating them at their own game. His self-deprecating humor blunts the barbs. Ted Koppel says "Tonight Show" host Jay Leno told him that Leno's audience isn't laughing at the "dumb jokes" anymore.
The media continue to use ideologically loaded words in describing ideas they favor or oppose. One example: In 1989, the first President Bush tried to create new jobs by proposing a cut in the capital gains tax. None of the broadcast networks described the Bush plan as a job stimulus package. But in 1993, when Bill Clinton pushed through huge tax and spending increases, 46 percent of network stories described his plan as a "jobs bill," while only 15 percent gave the GOP view that the spending was mostly on pork, according to the Media Research Center. The media are doing the same with the current President Bush, buying Democratic arguments that tax cuts will go to "the rich" and every Bush policy will harm the country and the planet.
By any fair standard, Bush has had an excellent 100 days. He just has to keep the momentum going for another three years and nine months in term number one.