Bush tumbling

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The Article

President was hanging in there until he tripped on tactical errors

SALT LAKE CITY—U.S. President George W. Bush’s ratings now appear in freefall and Republican strategists are looking at mid-term November elections with little speckles of perspiration showing up on their brows.

If the GOP loses control of the Senate or House of Representatives this fall, the Democrats will hammer and hogtie the president at every artificial opportunity they can muster.

Filibuster and even impeachment will be in the arsenals of tools they will use to thwart Bush’s every move.

It looks bleak right now—but only right now.

I’m not sure it’s the long occupation of Iraq undermining the president’s popularity—and by consequence the entire GOP team. Any rational observer knew the liberation and rebuilding would take years rather than months.

This was never going to be a quick knockout punch like Kuwait in 1991.

But it is going to be a historic turning point in the Mideast.

A combination of polls taken among the Iraqi people give us these positive assessments:

·  Percentage of Iraqis who feel the first real democratic election in Iraq elections were fair, 77%.

·  Percentage who feel the current Iraqi government is legitimate, 68%.

·  Percentage who think the country is headed in the right direction, 66%.

·  Percentage who feel, despite the hardships since the U.S.-British invasion, that getting rid of Saddam Hussein was worth it, 77% (Shiites 98%, Kurds, 91%, and Sunni 13%).

Let’s be honest here. We don’t get results like that in Canada, the U.S., Britain or other western democracies.

So, despite what the New York Times, Washington Post and CBS-TV would have you believe, there’s great optimism and vibrancy in Iraq.

Then again, when, in recent years could you believe anything you read in the Times or Post or heard on CBS?

That would be like trying to forget Canada’s CBC is little more than a Liberal propaganda agency—aside from being a sinkhole for taxpayers’ dollars.

Anyway, casting aside the aspersions the Lib-Left in the U.S. were naturally going to throw at Bush—as they did at Ronald Reagan—Bush was pretty much holding his own until he made the puzzling error of nominating his longtime legal adviser Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court.

The blunder startled even floating voters. It also infuriated Bush’s own right-wing GOP constituency. Why he nominated Miers will be one of the most baffling moves of his presidency.

He did, in all fairness, pull off a coup by then nominating Samuel Alito. The Democrats—at least the sensible ones—were loathe to try and veto that masterful appointment.

Just as they were loathe to tackle the nomination of John Roberts—or his immediate appointment as chief justice.

Yet, just as Bush was recovering from the Miers charade, up popped the Dubai ports deal.

Now, P&O is a very legitimate company, and its new owner, the United Arab Emirates, is a strong ally of the U.S in the Mideast.

The U.S. military refuels its warships there, and Americans military personnel take their R&R in the UAE.

The takeover process had gone routine through all the usual, non-political regulatory channels and been approved.

That an Arab nation would “control” six major U.S. ports was emotionally unpalatable for most Americans.

Especially for the screamin’ hypocritical Democrats.

Bush took the high road: If we can’t show the few Arab nations on our side we trust them explicably, then maybe they’ll start rethinking which side they should be on.

The president, back to the wall, conscientiously didn’t want to back down, so Dubai gave him an out and backed out itself.

It’s hard to see how this might read in Dubai—a president whose power is impotent—but it reads very badly in Middle America that Bush would even try this on.

Now, November heads closer, closer and closer.

A saving grace for the Republicans is that unlike in Canada and most western European nations in which a leader personifies the entire party, that’s not entirely so in the U.S.

Local big-name candidates can carry the day, even if their president’s popularity is in the doldrums.

So the Republicans may yet still control the Senate after votes are counted in November—but it will be a tough haul.

It will be disastrous, though, if they don’t.

 

Paul Jackson
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