One of the reasons that it is too early to count this admittedly struggling president out is that his opposition is in disarray, greater disarray than it has been in years. The Democrats have no program, no coherent ideas and no leader who is not perilously controversial. I have in mind the mesmeric Hillary, who mesmerizes Democrats, is repellent to Republicans and unattractive to most independents. She is the first First Lady ever to suffer the disapproval of a majority of Americans since pollsters began polling the approval ratings for First Ladies. She is, aside from her husband, the most scandal-prone person in American politics.
Another reason it is too early to count this president out is that he, and his fellow Republicans for that matter, bring out the worst in the Democrats, and at their worst the Democrats are very unappealing. In their rebarbative lecturing to Judge John Roberts they did themselves no good with average voters. Most Americans know that it is repugnant to boast of one's own virtue. By strutting their moral superiority over Roberts and condemning him as inhumane without any supporting evidence they looked like a panel of frauds. That is the Democrats' problem in a profession that attracts fakers; they are brazen fakes. Voters are not always unaware of this.
Blessed by such unimpressive opponents this president still has a good chance of ending his presidency in three years as a success. Much depends on the economy, which is robust. Much more depends on his most historic initiative, which means: victory in Iraq, suppression of terror and the spread of peace in the Middle East. Developments in Egypt, Lebanon and Libya suggest that peace might be spreading. Whether the administration's goal of democracy can spread is a question beyond me, but who can scoff at the goal? The spread of democracy has been an American ideal going back to President Woodrow Wilson, and the presidents who have been most fervent on behalf of democracy have usually been Democrats.
In foreign policy and even in many of his domestic initiatives, this Republican president has achieved a neat trick. He has assumed policies usually associated with the most honored Democrats. The almost unprecedented anger against him is the anger once exhibited by Midwestern and small-town Republicans as they watched FDR pass them by. The shrieks heard from the Democrats these days puts me in mind of one of my most deeply held beliefs about politics, to wit: Rather than being shaped by principles or by interests, most political issues are shaped by mental illness, namely the need of some citizens to be perpetually angry.
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