Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Panic of the Least Political President

In my lifetime of observing 12 American Presidents, none has been as politically incompetent--or to be more accurate, uninvolved in the process--as George W. Bush. He is highly partisan, but not political.

So it comes as no surprise that insiders are admitting the White House “is in panic mode” over defections of Senate Republicans from their four years of unwavering support for the President’s Iraq policy.

On CNN last night David Gergen, who worked in several Administrations, expressed bewilderment at Bush’s failure to engage directly with legislative leaders of his party, instead sending his National Security Adviser on a “scouting trip” rather than attempting personally to keep his troops from breaking ranks.

From the extreme of Lyndon Johnson, who twisted arms, to Dwight Eisenhower, who believed in “reasoning” with legislators, every President has worked hard as an advocate, cheer-leader and horse trader to get Congress to do what he wanted.

Bush seems to disdain all that. Perhaps his life experience explains why. Unlike others who had to strive and struggle to get there, Bush came to the White House after a lifetime of getting what he wanted through family connections.

In 2000, he was practically anointed as the Republican nominee by name recognition and massive early fund-raising that came with it. When John McCain became a potential road block after winning in New Hampshire, Rove and his gang of Bush family retainers blasted him out of the way.

Now, perhaps for the first time in his life, the scion of the Bush line is facing a challenge that hired hands can’t handle for him. Will he have the instincts and the guts to meet it? Or will he become the lamest Lame Duck of all time?

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