Reports of the president's lame duckness may have been exaggerated. By choosing first Tony Snow as spokesman, and now Karl Zinsmeister as domestic policy adviser, George Bush has demonstrated that he is far from lame, and may even be frisky.
Snow is a familiar public figure who brings a welcome dose of humor and easy confidence to the job. Zinsmeister will be less visible, but his impact is potentially huge.
It's easy to imagine why the president and Zinsmeister hit if off so well at their first meeting. Zinsmeister, editor of The American Enterprise magazine for 12 years, is an intellectual powerhouse, but he is also a hands-on guy. I imagine the president was pleased to learn that Zinsmeister had been an embedded reporter during the Iraq War and has been back three times since. His reporting (and three books) on the war stressed the terrific professionalism of our troops. He has been less enthusiastic about the press. Here is an excerpt from a 2004 report:
"This bias toward [assuming] failure is fanned by what [U.S. News and World Report columnist] Michael Barone calls the 'zero defect standard' of today's media. For months, armchair journalists without the slightest understanding of what real war is like have howled that this guerilla struggle hasn't been run according to a tidy 'plan.' Why did we 'allow' the looting? How come nobody anticipated the IED (Improvised Explosive Devices) threat? Is it wrong for GIs to invade people's houses? . . . Wars never proceed according to plan; they are always fought by the seat of one's pants, through constant improvisation.
"On D-Day (one of the most carefully 'planned' military events ever), 4,649 American soldiers were killed within just a few hours -- many through what an accusatory mind could characterize as 'screw-ups' (gliders and paratroopers landing in the wrong places, amphibious and landing craft unloading in water that was too deep, Air Force and Navy failures to suppress German fire on the beaches) . . . By standards of war invoked by some contemporary media observers, those landings could be viewed as traumatic bungles."