After Arnold Schwarzenegger lost all four of the initiatives he sponsored in the California special election in 2005, he told the people of the Golden State that “I’ve heard you. I’m going to change.” He did. Since promising to change in his state of the state address in January, Schwarzenegger has become a better bridge builder and has showed an admirable willingness to work across the political aisle to accomplish important objectives. Yes, the governor has alienated some of my conservative friends in the process, but he has also gained quite a few Democratic friends. And as a result, while other Republicans were losing across the country, Schwarzenegger cruised to reelection last Tuesday. Notably, Schwarzenegger’s winning percentage of the vote (56 percent) surpassed the winning percentages earned by President Bill Clinton and President George W. Bush in all four of their winning presidential campaigns.
As a California Republican, I’ve watched the governor’s transformation very closely and I believe there is much that President Bush can learn from our movie-star-turned-politician leader; namely, that a change in strategy can lead to major political victories. In turn, I offer four specific policy areas where the president should rethink his strategies for success.
Rightly or wrongly, most Americans see the war in Iraq as a failed strategy. As voters made abundantly clear last Tuesday, we cannot simply “stay the course.” A new strategy must begin with new leadership. Donald Rumsfeld’s resignation is a start, but more change is needed. For example, Vice President Dick Cheney—the man who designed much of the strategy for the Iraq war—needs to have less of an influence in the administration’s inner circles. Meantime, we await the results of the bipartisan panel led by former Secretary of State James Baker. Pundits have suggested that one of the panel’s recommendations will be to have a regional conference that would include talks with Iran and Syria. While there’s little to suggest that this strategy will produce favorable results, it’s good to see the president exploring alternative options.
The “War on Terror”
Doug Wilson is the the co-author, with Edwin Feulner, of Getting America Right: The True Conservative Values Our Nation Needs Today.
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