The economy is strong with steady growth, low unemployment, low inflation, low interest rates and only one sector in doubt -- housing -- which, in an economy as enormous as ours, can be endured for a while. The president's reluctance to fund federal research on embryonic stem cells has been vindicated with the announcement that scientists have discovered how to use normal skin cells to serve their research purposes. And now comes a National Intelligence Estimate, concluding that Iran decided to abandon a 15-year program to develop nuclear weapons just months after our invasion of Iraq. At the time, Libya gave up its nuclear arms program, too. What desert potentate wants to suffer the fate President Bush arranged for Saddam Hussein?
The nature of modern broadcast media and the present rancorous condition of partisan politics encourage a colossal din after a president undertakes daring endeavors. Today we forget the widespread contempt that surrounded President Harry Truman's last years in office, as he contended with the Korean War and the early stages of the Cold War. Who remembers the sorry repute of Ronald Reagan a year before he vacated the premises? Former White House speechwriter Clark S. Judge, in one of the first newspaper columns to notice the Bush revival, wrote last week, "In 1987, President Reagan's fortunes were down." Judge noted the president's loss of the Senate, the setback of the Bork nomination and, of course, the Iran-Contra affair. "But then," Judge recalls, "the Soviets started to give way on arms and other agreements, the economy continued to grow despite the October stock market crash and Reagan began the long climb in the polls that helped put the current president's father in the Oval Office."
Well, maybe the present president's "long climb" has begun. From a lowly 29 precent approval rating in September, when Petraeus was testifying before Congress on the surge, Bush's approval has climbed to 36 percent. The Democratic Congress' approval is but 22 percent, and its leadership has undertaken no daring endeavors. When President Bush finally retires to his ranch to continue his readings of history, quite possibly the books about contemporary Washington will make for pleasant reading. Perhaps even a boulevard will be named after him in Baghdad.