If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And -- which is more -- you'll be a Man, my son!
-- Rudyard Kipling
If a minute in politics is an eternity, what does that make 18 months?
Of course President Bush can recover his popularity. He is right now suffering from two interconnected problems. First, the most important issue of his presidency, the war, has not gone as well as people want. Second, the war has sucked all the oxygen out of the president's domestic agenda. Few today, when they think of the president, even remember faith-based initiatives, the Medicare reform law or even the "Bush tax cuts" that have helped create an almost unthinkably healthy economy of historic low unemployment and 41 consecutive months of growth.
Anyone who remembers the weeks after 9/11 knows that George W. Bush is capable of world-class political and national leadership. His credibility with the American people has slipped over the war's progress, but that doesn't mean the skills and instincts that got him elected in the first place have disappeared. The Democrat takeover in Congress provides the president with an opportunity to recover his standing with the American people and his command over the national agenda.
The Democrat overreach has already begun. In their first four months in control of Congress, Democrat leaders have taken no fewer than three separate positions on the war. President Bush's steadfastness -- which has been unfairly criticized as rigidity -- is a much more appealing position when compared to the Democrats' cynical and unforgivable lack of any principled contributions to the debate.
Every time Sen. Harry Reid tries to defend his indefensible and idiotic "The war is lost" rhetoric, the Democrats' honeymoon in Washington gets a little more sour. The Democrats have a fundamental misconception about the polls on the war. What the American people are expressing in their public opinions about the war isn't a desire for us to surrender, but for us to win more quickly.
Tom DeLay is the former House Majority Leader, the second ranking leader in the United States House of Representatives, and co-author of No Retreat, No Surrender: One American's Fight.