Schwarzenegger signed a bill to cut California greenhouse gases by 25 percent in 2020, 10 years after he is out of office -- and that makes him a green governor. Bush already has increased fuel-efficiency standards for light trucks and SUVs, more than Clinton ever did, but critics only notice that he rejected Kyoto. Now he's promising big gasoline reductions in the future, too.
Big promises sell better than small but actual remedies. One big difference between Bush and Schwarzenegger: The more Schwarzenegger tries to do his job -- balance the state budget and reform state government -- the worse he fares in the polls. Bush, on the other hand, has sunk in voter approval precisely because voters feel that he failed as an executive on Iraq and Hurricane Katrina. By doing his job better, Bush should be more popular. Tuesday night, Bush showed that he has the courage of his convictions -- while Democratic leaders do not.
"Whatever you voted for," Bush told Congress of its passage of the Iraq war resolution, "you did not vote for failure."
Then, on Wednesday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee did vote for failure -- or at least it passed a nonbinding anti-troop surge resolution. Lt. Gen. David Petraeus had told the Armed Services Committee Tuesday that such an action would embolden Iraqi insurgents.
For years, Democratic critics have faulted Bush for not listening to military leaders on troop strength. By military leaders, the critics meant not Army Gen. Tommy Franks, who got the number of troops he wanted, but Gen. Eric Shinseki, who wanted many thousands more U.S. troops in Iraq.
Now Bush is listening to Petraeus, who told Congress he needs 20,000 more troops -- and the critics are not heeding what the brass say they need. A recent Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll asked Democrats if they personally wanted the new Bush plan to succeed in Iraq, and 51 percent of Democrats said yes, while 34 percent said no and 15 percent didn't know. So they shouldn't get indignant when those who support the war question the patriotism of some war critics.
Let me acknowledge that war opponents have done a service to the extent that they have sent Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki the message that U.S. troops will leave if he does not reform. But when senators vote for resolutions that have no effect other than to undermine the war effort, you cannot respect that vote. It lacks conviction and purpose.