Thursday, January 22, 2004

Dubya's Problem: By all impartial measures, this guy has had a good first term. Multiple tax cuts, a rising economic tide, regime change in two countries (and some better news of late, amid the bad, out of both of those), and good (if soft) approval numbers. But Americans are notorious for having a what-have-you-done-lately mindset, hence the need for the president to tout spending like a Democrat in his SOTU speech. Even the stuff he proposed, as we've noted, was micropolicy. Let's hear it for community colleges, plus you kids stay out of those steroids. We hear this incessantly about the Dems, but is it possible that Bush is the one who has peaked too early? I bet he'd love to take that Saddam capture right about the time of . . . oh, the Democrat convention.

Bush has nothing to run on at this point other than entitlements. Mainly more of them, with some minor market efficiencies tacked on to bloated socialism, like one of those tiny spears hanging out of Moby Dick as he pulls Gregory Peck under. Osama in leg irons would be a boost. The problem with that is there's likely not enough left of Osama to do more than stain the leg irons. And any announcement of his death would meet with the skepticism that has arisen after the fifteen or so "I think we got Saddam this time" bomb strikes in Iraq over the past year. That is, in order to gain a boost, Bush would have to show us more than a microscope slide with some DNA on it. Plainly, Bush will need some kind of boost in the late summer or fall, given that a knock-em-dead convention speech is, to be charitable, unlikely. But he'd be unwise to push for a big policy victory this year, such as social security or vouchers. His best hope at this point is that more Democrat candidates suffer Dean-esque self-immolation. Wesley Clark is striding to the on-deck circle.

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