This past week I was called by two of the more reasonable newspaper reporters from the Old Media whom I have known for some time. If they have an agenda it has not been evident. Both called in puzzlement over what is happening in the Bush Administration. My answer is: I don’t know.
This is the eighth President of the United States whom I have had the privilege of observing rather closely. During the first term of President George W. Bush I was in awe. I never had seen such a disciplined, controlled, brilliant Administration. Yes, 9/11 caught the President by surprise yet it took him but a day to recover. He clearly was on top of things from that point out. Only a single Cabinet member, the Secretary of the Treasury, departed and that was because he was at odds with the President’s policies. By the way, in that dispute in my opinion Bush clearly was right and the Treasury Secretary clearly wrong.
There was no leak in the first term. For Washington that was so extraordinary that some began to ask if Bush really were the Second Coming. The whole Administration was on message. Regardless of the subject, the entire Administration sang from the same song sheet.
The Administration tackled many controversial issues. It pulled out of the ABM Treaty, said no to the Kyoto Treaty, executed two wars, scuttled United States participation in the so-called International Court of Justice.
Bush ’43 was unabashedly pro-life. The Washington media corps is unabashedly pro-abortion. Except for some extreme cartoonists and columnists, Bush never really was tagged as an apostle of the Religious Right. It was an Administration so on track, that despite a year of relentless attacks on the part of the nine Democrats who began running against Bush, in the 2004 general election it drew the largest number of votes in American history. I didn’t like it one bit that Bush and company managed to push through Congress the Prescription Drug Benefit. They had enough clout to go against the wishes of their own party. They had made a promise to the American people and they fulfilled it.
The Bush Presidency made history in 2002. An incumbent President is supposed to lose seats in the first off-year election - not many, perhaps, but lose seats a certainty. Not Bush. His Republicans, with his extraordinary help, won back the Senate from the Democrats and increased the margin in the House. In 2004 not only did the President himself win but he became the first President since Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1936 to increase his party’s margin in both Houses of Congress.