Talk in recent days from his fellow Republicans and other fellow Americans would lead us to believe that most have a dim outlook of President Bush's political prospects in his second term. Bush's plan to partially privatize Social Security has taken a particular public relations beating, even among some of the GOP hardcore.
But the polling numbers tell a different story on the public's view of their re-elected leader. As part of our recent InsiderAdvantage "Super Poll" of the nation, we asked:
Do you think that George W. Bush will have a more successful second term than his first?
Yes 53 percent
No 40 percent
Undecided 7 percent
The survey was conducted Feb. 2-3 among 600 Americans. It has a margin of error of plus or minus four percent.
Modern history supports the view that U.S. presidents face tougher going in their second terms. But those unhappy days in the White House have often been the result of presidential blunders that went far beyond business as usual. Richard Nixon for one, and enough said already. Ditto for Bill Clinton. Only Lyndon Johnson -- whose first term was an abbreviated one that followed John Kennedy's death -- and Ronald Reagan provide helpful examples for Bush to copy.
So here is a sampling of "compare and contrast" with those former administrations, as President Bush embarks on his second four years in office.
Domestically, both Johnson and Reagan made critical missteps, with Reagan's having a more immediate impact. His administration's rewrite of the tax code punished the real estate industry so badly that it nearly ground to a halt by the early 1990s.
Johnson expanded entitlement programs as far as the eye could see. He set the stage for the entire debate over debt, Social Security, Medicare benefits, and all of the other budget-busting issues with which the current president must contend today.
Both Johnson and Reagan had troublesome issues that plagued their second administrations like incurable diseases. And their problems are instructive to the current administration.