Presidential History

Filleting the Lame Duck

|

The Christian Science Monitor surveys a second-term Bush administration sinking into the swamp:

On an almost daily basis, it seems, signs are emerging that the well-oiled Bush machine of the early days is anything but that in the final quarter of George W. Bush's presidency.

From the flap over the firings of federal prosecutors to the exposé over conditions in some parts of Walter Reed Medical Center to a rare public disavowal by a former top campaign aide, President Bush is suffering the slings and arrows that often beset second-term presidents. But because of the intractable nature of the increasingly unpopular Iraq war, his chances of political recovery are slimmer than were those of the most recent presidents to serve two full terms, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, analysts say.

Another reason Bush can be abandoned with impunity?

Paul Light, a presidential scholar at New York University….notes that in the modern political construct, an unpopular second-term president has very little on which to trade, in terms of control over his party or its financial largesse.

"He has no money and a Democratic Congress that's watching every move he makes," says Light. "I would say that people are no longer afraid of him, and moreover, people no longer believe he can help them in any sort of substantive way."

More bad news on the way for the Bush administration: books by both former CIA boss George Tenet and former papa Bush scribe Vic Gold that seem primed to expose him to further obloquy.

NEXT: Putin Takes to the Internet

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Bush deserves all the obloquy that he gets / will get. That f*ckface is a disgrace.

  2. Will this change the attitude of the religious right and neocons? Probably not. They just think they need to pray harder or bomb harder and things will get better. There’s this idea that a president should be one of the guys, one should be able to have a beer with the president and he be a likeable guy. Do you really want a drinking buddy with his finger on the button? At some point in his life, George W. Bush was somebody’s drinking buddy, and look how his presidency turned out. I bet nobody on the right wants a beer with Ron Paul.

  3. Is Ezra Klein the guest Managing Editor today or something?

  4. Yeah! Fuckin’ obloquy… and stuff.

    nerd

  5. Do you think that Bush realizes, even at this point, that he’s in over his head?

  6. Probably not, joe.

  7. If it were up to me, I’d stick a feeding tube down the lame-duck’s throat and, at least, make something tastey.

  8. Lamar,

    I’d have a beer with Ron Paul. I don’t trust a guy who doesn’t ever drink.

  9. joe,

    If bush were drowning, he wouldn’t swim. He’d insist the ocean be drained until he could stand above it. Then he’d declare mission accomplished.

  10. wait a sec – i thought holy rollers could walk on that shit. WTF?

    or did his WoT piety-induced stigmata cause him to lose buoyancy?

    oh so confused! The Donger need food!

  11. “If bush were drowning, he wouldn’t swim. He’d insist the ocean be drained until he could stand above it.”

    Gosh- I wonder what the process for awarding the contract would look like, or who might emerge as the (surprise) winner.

  12. Moose, you are going to have to stop being so funny. It’s getting so I can’t read H&R quietly at work any more. Snortling and choking is a dead giveaway that I am not working on the budget.

  13. VM,

    That’s funny stuff, but do you really need to use misinformation to make fun of Christians? Some of the stuff they actually believe should be funny enough.

  14. L.I.T.,

    He’s spend 3 1/2 minutes insisting he wasn’t drowing and calling the people who threw him a life preserver names.

    Then, as he began to black out, he’d insist that no one pull him into the boat, so that the ocean wouldn’t think it had beaten him.

  15. He’s spend 3 1/2 minutes insisting he wasn’t drowing and calling the people who threw him a life preserver names.

    Then, as he began to black out, he’d insist that no one pull him into the boat, so that the ocean wouldn’t think it had beaten him.

    Perfect.

  16. Now, jf, don’t be too impressed.

    I just got lucky when I told him to stay in the boat. No one serious could have noticed that there was an undertoe and a storm whipping up, and pointing out that he couldn’t swim was just a symptom of my derangement.

  17. Is Ezra Klein the guest Managing Editor today or something?

    Hey, Guy, please give one good reason why libertarians should support Bush. Oh, wait, I forgot, you can’t.

  18. Snortling and choking is a dead giveaway that I am not working on the budget.

    You’re working in the wrong place, then.

  19. lol, joe, you’re on a roll today.

  20. …there was an undertoe…

    I kow-tao to your undertoe.

  21. Nice to see your derangement wasn’t as serious as once thought, btw.

  22. You people sicken me, talking about President Bush that way!

    He deserves a Presidential Medal of Freedom; hopefully he’ll have time to give himself one.

    And a pardon.

  23. *snort!* **cough!**

    “well-oiled Bush machine”

  24. I wish he’d go really, really crazy and have the entire book of Revelations tattooed all over his body.

    Though, as terrible as Bush has been as a president, 5 or 6 years from now will be more stomach-churning. That’s when he-wasn’t-so-badism usually kicks in. If you can clean up Nixon, then whitewashing Bush is going to be a breeze. His once and future cronies have 9-11 and the “wartime” president excuses to fall back on.

  25. “Do you really want a drinking buddy with his finger on the button?”

    Of the Presidents since Truman, which ones WOULD you trust with their finger on the button?

    My choice would be Ike. I’m a non-golfer, but I think Ike would have a great guy to share a drink with.

  26. Of the Presidents since Truman,…

    I assume you excluded HST because he’s the only one that actually has nuked anybody.

  27. Aresen:

    Without getting into each and every military intervention, Carter, Reagan, Bush I, Clinton. Even though Reagan was a hawk, he knew that you couldn’t just willy-nilly invade a country. He knew that you had to have the CIA do some dirty work, drum up a local resistance movement, get the locals involved. I know that this tends to lead to barbaric revolutionaries and death-squads, but is that any different than in Iraq today? The difference is that each of the above Presidents seemed to understand that there has to be some local support for your plan. Bush I knew enough to get the world involved in Iraq I.

  28. Well a drinkin’ buddy that’s bound to another town
    Once the police made you go away
    And even if you’re in the arms of someone’s baby now
    I’ll drink a great big whiskey to ya anyway

  29. Isaac

    I excluded Truman because I didn’t want to get the “should he have done it to Nagasaki or even Hiroshima?” debate and all the mind-numbing ‘deal with Stalin’ conspiracy theories.

    Lamar

    I concede your point. But everyone seems to have a different view of which President seemed to have the best grasp of the limits of power. I chose Ike because he seemed the least likely to have a hankering for foreign adventure. [I know Vietnam got started on his watch, but there were only a couple of thousand “advisers” in ‘Nam at the time he left office.]

    My unease with the current president is that he does not seem to understand that there are such limits, despite whatever noises he to the contrary before his inauguration.

  30. I like Ike!

  31. We all have different thresholds for when war would be OK. George W. Bush doesn’t appear to even have a threshold given the poor rationale for this war.

  32. He knew that you had to have the CIA do some dirty work, drum up a local resistance movement, get the locals involved. I know that this tends to lead to barbaric revolutionaries and death-squads, but is that any different than in Iraq today?

    It’s different in that Reagan was directly supporting terrorists who tortured and murdered the locals in an effort to get the support they never had.

  33. I firmly believe that the weird neo-con (PNAC variety) belief expressed by Michael Ledeen:

    “Every ten years or so, the United States needs to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show we mean business.”

    is the direct result of Reagan’s glorious little Grenadian adventure.

  34. I am not Paul Westerberg even though he is our greatest living national treasure.

  35. “It’s different in that Reagan was directly supporting terrorists who tortured and murdered the locals in an effort to get the support they never had.”

    And depending on the intervention, this failure to gain indigenous support led to the failure of his initiative….without toppling governments, destabilizing entire regions, aimless wars with no real objective and getting thousands of American soldiers killed.

  36. Ok, the Executive Branch is currently losing power and prestige. And this is a bad thing? Ten or fifteen more years of this and we might have our republic back.

  37. ChrisO

    I agree with you about losing prestige, but losing power?

    It doesn’t look that way from this angle.

  38. Ten or fifteen more years of this and we might have our republic back.

    Unfortunately, not so much, seeing as the Total State as a whole isn’t losing power, but just moving it around amongst the playaz.

  39. Balancing power among the playaz, also known as the system of checks and balances, was the original strategy the framers had for preventing government from becoming tyrannical.

    It was prior even to the Bill of Rights.

  40. joe,

    The founders read Polybius probably more closely than any of the authors usually cited (e.g., Locke) as being on their reading lists. Polybius’ discussion of the Roman government focused greatly on the stability provided by the checks intended to limit the powers of the various magistracies and institutions. Of course, many of those checks were intended to strike a balance between classes–i.e., patricians and plebeians –but they had some similar features to what we had today. Except for. . . .

    THE CENSOR!!!!

  41. I was obviously being facetious.

    The current political bungling in the WH does little or nothing to address the egregious overreach committed by every single federal agency, every day.

    Personally, I’m surprised that Gonzales hasn’t already resigned to “spend more time with his family”–read: get back into lucrative private practice in Dallas or Houston while the getting’s good.

  42. Gonzales is holding out for the proconsulship of Lusitania.

  43. Bush is a convincing argument for a pro-choice stance.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.