They cite the discipline he has brought to the White House staff, the people he has chosen for that staff and the Cabinet, the civility that he has brought to Washington and his professionally controlled foreign policy. But many Democrats did not give the president high marks for his 100-day performance.
Former Reagan Attorney General Ed Meese, speaking at a discussion of Bush's 100 days in office at the Heritage Foundation in Washington Friday said, "if you had to sum up the 100 days in one sentence, I would say, that George Bush has shown the people of the United States, the adults are back in charge."
Meese also thinks Bush has not received much positive coverage from the press.
"I think that the press has been up to what they usually try to do and that is pick fights, and when there aren't fights, create fights. In some way, they have misstated what's happening. When the House passed their budget resolution for $1.6 trillion tax cuts and the Senate passed a $1.27 trillion tax cut in their resolution, it was heralded as a big defeat for the president," Meese said.
Meese said what the press didn't report was the "20 percent difference between those two figures which is about the same as what Ronald Reagan's tax cut ultimately came to be from what he started with in 1981. The argument was no longer whether there will be a tax cut which is where it was back in November, but what is the range within this small deviation. And yet that was heralded by the press as a defeat."
Meese thinks Bush has outflanked the press.
"In some ways, this administration has thwarted the press because they don't have a lot of juicy leaks about class infighting within the White House and within the administration. What you see with the president is what you get. He doesn't fall for their questions and doesn't get off of his message when he is going around the country. I think they have tried to get him off stride but I don't think they've been successful," Meese said.
James Pfiffner, professor of Public and International Affairs at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia said Bush has a "disciplined and well organized" White House.
Pfiffner drew laughs from the crowd, when he said, "the trouble with this White House is that it's too well disciplined. There are no leaks, which is good for the president, but it's not good for us scholars who are trying to figure out what's happening on the inside."
Kim Holmes, vice president of Foreign Policy at the Heritage Foundation said Bush has done a good job on foreign policy in his first 100 days and one way it was shown was during the recent reconnaissance plane crisis with China, in which after several days, 24 American military personnel were returned to the U.S. unharmed. Even though China still has the aircraft.
"Bush is returning control of foreign policy operations to the professionals and to the regular machinery of government. There were no high level envoys. You might have expected that with President Clinton. No addresses to the nation. They used the president in the very beginning to send a signal then the president retreated from the public eye. He set up a crisis management team of principals and deputies that were constantly in contact and worked through the NSC [National Security Council] process to make decisions," said Holmes.
Becky Norton Dunlop of the Heritage Foundation said, "I think that President Bush has done an outstanding job. I think on the personnel front he is exactly where he wants to be. He has made it very clear from the outset that he expects quality and loyalty. And that can be personal loyalty or political loyalty. Every one who has been appointed in this administration is carrying out George Bush's agenda."
Dunlop also commended Bush for returning what she called "civility" to Washington after the Clinton years.
But many Democrats were not so laudatory of Bush's first 100 days. Many of them have accused him of imperiling women, children and workers in favor of big business.
House Democratic Leader Richard Gephardt (D-Mo.) Thursday, speaking on Capitol Hill, continued to question the legitimacy of the Bush presidency.
"This is not compassionate conservatism. This is leaving no special interest behind, and it must not stand," said Gephardt.
Gephardt also expected that Bush would compromise with Democrats on many issues because last November's election was "essentially a tie."
"We thought a new tenor was coming to Washington. But the uniter has not yet appeared. He appointed the most far right, anti-woman, anti-environment, wealthiest and best connected Cabinet in a generation. It's my way or the highway everyday," Gephardt said.
Gephardt added, "this administration, in 100 days, has been mostly about PR and slogans and trying to create the impression that they are for moderate policies while the reality is hard right-wing, extreme policies coming out every day."
Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) criticized Bush for signing a bill that repealed last-minute workplace regulations approved by former President Clinton. He also accused Bush of going back on a campaign pledge to reduce industrial carbon monoxide emissions and for voiding Clinton-era standards for arsenic in drinking water.
"These first 100 days give us real concern about the next 1,360. This White House has been moving backwards so quickly, they've managed to look progressive when they decide to stand still," Daschle said.
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