Tags: Bush | Wagging | the | Dog | With | Iran?

Is Bush Wagging the Dog With Iran?

Friday, 14 April 2006 12:00 AM

Only a cynic would recognize that a strategic strike against Iran, if such were possible and especially if it were successful, might be the one thing that would restore the president's standing in the polls. For it might remind people of what they used to like about this president, in a way that nothing else could – not even the capture of Osama bin Laden.

A true lame duck is a safe bet in the White House. He has nothing to worry about but the historians. But a president who still has a chance to win, or lose, as Bush does in the midterms, still has reason to play for the crowds, and is a more dangerous, or rather more political, proposition.

In Bush's case, the jury is still out. The country doesn't think he acted with wrongful intent with respect to the war, just wrongly. The country doesn't favor censure or impeachment of the president, it just doesn't favor his handling of the war. A stable majority has clearly turned on the president, but it hasn't closed the door.

The guy they used to like was the one who the bad guys were all afraid of. It didn't matter that people abroad didn't like him if it was out of fear and respect, if it was based on recognition of his strength. It didn't matter if he mangled a sentence if no one missed his toughness. He was more Reagan than his father. That's what people favored in him. You wanted to have a beer with him, if he drank, but you didn't want to get on the wrong side with him.

Much of that has been lost by what's gone wrong in Iraq, New Orleans and Washington, and at prescription counters across America. And much that has gone wrong is beyond Bush's power to fix between now and November.

Does anyone really expect dramatic improvements in Iraq between now and then? Will he or won't he fire Donald Rumsfeld, and will it matter, if it happens, the next day? What can Bush possibly do to address the growing frustration and anger of seniors who simply cannot understand the new Medicare prescription drug plan, or are finding both intended and unintended gaps in coverage? Not likely much between now and November. Gas prices are going up, and Bush is not going to become the "Solar President" between now and September.

The worst thing is that the best that Bush can hope for is, in some sense, nothing – that nothing will happen on the terrorism front, in which case he'll probably get no credit, if current trends to trust the two parties equally to deal with terrorism continue. Terrorism right now is a "no win" for Bush, in which he could be blamed if something goes wrong without getting credit for continued quiet.

Unless the boat gets rocked. Unless he takes bold, pre-emptive (remember pre-emptive?) steps to protect our children. Unless the old Bush emerges. Not that he would, for that reason, consider anything (only a cynic, a very cynical cynic) ... Especially if Israel were firmly by his side, neutralizing any Democratic opposition. Never.

Just because it would reinforce all his positives, make him look tough and strong and not to be reckoned with, "don't mess with George," change the subject dramatically, draw attention totally away from Iraq, maybe even give cover for strategic withdrawals from Iraq, make Bush look courageous and NOT poll-driven, even if it was a brilliant political move – that's hardly a reason to view such a move more positively, certainly no one would look at it that way in this particularly very un-political White House ...

Only a cynic would see a tail wag a dog like that. Or a wagging dog. Or something like that.

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Only a cynic would recognize that a strategic strike against Iran, if such were possible and especially if it were successful, might be the one thing that would restore the president's standing in the polls. For it might remind people of what they used to like about this...
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Friday, 14 April 2006 12:00 AM
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