WASHINGTON -- This is a very glum time for President George W. Bush. Cock your ear toward Washington and what do you hear? Democrats, even the sensible ones such as John Francois Kerry and Sen. Joe Biden, the admirer of British political oratory, adjudge him hopeless. Now even conservatives are weighing in. My own colleague at The American Spectator, The Prowler, writes that "at this stage of the game … this Administration is [probably] done for." Alas, time to amble back to the ranch, George.
Or is it? Every normal presidency in recent decades has been through times like this. I say normal because at least one, the Clinton presidency, and possibly a second one, the Nixon presidency, were decidedly abnormal. From Franklin Delano Roosevelt to the present president, every president has found himself occasionally forlorn and rejected. Yet, with the exceptions of Jimmy Carter and Lyndon Johnson (remember, we have placed Clinton and Nixon in a class by themselves), these presidencies have for the most part been successful. Well, that might not be exactly true of the presidency of John F. Kennedy, but maybe he too should be placed in a class by himself.
Despite the gloom surrounding the White House, it is too early to predict this president's success or failure. He is engaged in a war and wars are always fraught with vicissitudes, failed predictions, and setbacks, even for the victorious side. Who announced that all U.S. troops would be out of Germany by 1947? That would be FDR at Yalta in 1945. Why was Washington so desperate to bring the Red Army into our war with Japan as late as the winter of 1945? We had no clear idea of how effective the atomic bomb would be against the Japanese. Most of the criticism of this Administration's execution of war in Iraq is ignorant, opportunistic and hypocritical. Consider Boy Clinton's recent eruption of bosh, claiming that the president acted precipitously and "with no real urgency, no evidence that there were weapons of mass destruction." Thitherto Clinton has deposited scores of statements on the public record contradicting these partisan judgments, which make this famed perjurer once again a candidate for the Hypocrites' Hall of Fame.