Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Recovery Ain't Easy

From Ezra Klein:

With Bush's approval ratings hovering somewhere around -112%, we're seeing the inevitable rush of commentators explain how to save his presidency. Rich Lowry's plan, as described by Ryan Lizza, is an "enforcement-only immigration bill, speeches denouncing eminent domain abuse, happy talk about the economy, tax reform, more judicial battles, a spending bill veto, and chats with conservative bloggers." Yes, and after Bush makes nice with the 12% of Americans who are in his base, he'll slip back into the high 30's. But Lizza's counterporposals, while better from a policy perspective (Fire Cheney, bring in McCain, make Iran bipartisan, jawbone Iraqi, get serious about reform), are similarly unlikely to halt Bush's slide.

The problem, of course, is that Bush isn't flailing because this White House is insufficiently politically adept. He's flailing because the major policies on which he's staked his presidency are self-destructing. Iraq is a bloodbath, the deficit threatens to swallow the country whole, the Middle East is less stable than ever, economic insecurity is rampant, inequality has risen, the government response to a national disaster was staggeringly incompetent etc, etc. So while any of Lizza's ideas might result in a temporary bump, that spike would rapidly flatten under the perpetual stream of bad news. Fact is, Bush is proving that presidencies are about something more than communication strategies. This White House was predicated on the belief that policies didn't matter, only politics did. That's been disproven, they've found themselves unable to fight failure with photo-ops. And this country will be better for it.

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