Contrast Bush with California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who changes his agenda with the wind, not because he is willing to tackle difficult work, but because he needs to score some political points as he prepares to run for re-election. It makes me appreciate the fact that Bush is constant.
Yes, at times Bush drives me crazy, too. His refusal to veto any spending bills fueled a growing deficit. The Bushies were dangerously overconfident about what it would take to win the war in Iraq. They may well have underestimated how many troops were needed in 2003.
This summer, he dropped the ball. He allowed public support for the war to soften. While I think state and local officials carry the blame for infrastructure failures -- a la Katrina -- Bush was flat-footed in responding to the disaster.
Not only will Bush never be as articulate as Blair, he'll never learn how to pronounce "nuclear." Perhaps Bush's biggest political failing has been his inability to get Americans to dislike his critics more than they dislike him -- although I got the feeling Bush was learning the game on Tuesday, when he referred to the National Security Agency wiretap controversy thusly: "I did notice that nobody from the Democratic Party has actually stood up and called for the getting rid of the terrorist surveillance program. You know, if that's what they believe, if people in the party believe that, then they ought to stand up and say it."
Bush nailed it. Since his election, partisan Democrats repeatedly have voted in favor of his proposals -- Iraq, the Patriot Act -- only to snipe at them when they see an opportunity to wound the Republican president. They have every right to criticize policies with which they disagree, but they were not elected to approve a war -- if they weren't willing to do their utmost to win it.
For his part, and with all his faults, the president is trying to do something great. If he succeeds, the world will be a better place. That's what matters.
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