GEORGE W. Bush is a one- term president now serving deep into his second term. Like his father, he shot his bolt during his first four years. Unlike his dad, he was able to persuade America to keep him around for another term. But he seems destined to spend the remainder of his tenure, à la Nixon, “twisting slowly in the wind.”
Bush has truly become the Republican equivalent of President Jimmy Carter, out of control, dropping in popularity, unable to resume command. He barely skated through 2004 using the issue of terrorism. But his very success in preventing further attacks has eroded the strength of the issue and has undermined its political importance. Tax cuts, the cause celebre of his 2000 campaign, have long since been passed and yielded their economic growth. But they’re long gone as a key issue.
Yet Bush, like his father, fails to invent issues to give his presidency a new lease on life. Is he too tired or lazy to do so? Does he not believe in government doing very much in the first place? Or is he so preoccupied with Iraq – as Carter was with the hostage crisis – that he can’t divert his attention to new issues?