May 17, 2004

Walking a Line

Supporters of the Bush administration need to take care to walk a fine line between cheerleading and tearing down your own side according to Prof. Bainbridge. He's right, of course, and he's shading over to the criticism side of the line. He sells cheerleading a bit short though.

People need to be reminded of the virtues of Bush 2 or they won't vote for him and there won't even be a Bush 2.1 (his construction but it's a nice one). Grim necessity does not assemble majority coalitions very often. Prof. Bainbridge is going to vote for Bush, he assures us, but he is no happy warrior and is not likely to inspire many others to follow in his footsteps.

For me, Bush support is more than a grim necessity. He's not perfect, but given the hand that was dealt him, he's done a good job as president and deserves another term. For someone who is supposed to be simple, he's taken a finely balanced Congress and done admirably well at passing legislation. Even at his most statist moments (and he's not a libertarian, by no means) the damage has largely been temporary (steel tariffs) or mixed in with important reforms (medicare drug coverage) that had been stalled for decades. There is nothing uglier than legislation that gains a majority in a finely divided Congress. Bush has walked the line admirably.

To a surprising extent, Bush has also managed to keep certain dogs from barking. With an american left that has no shame about criticizing that Republicans are both doing too much and too little, Bush has avoided waking the Democrat dog that savages Republicans as military industrial complex shills and war mongers. This country would be in a far more precarious position today if a bill enlarging the armed forces would have been defeated by Congress. Bush, no doubt counting the votes, avoided the internationally explosive defeat and hardly anybody even notices. Whoever is president in 2005 will be able to push an enlargement bill through on wider margins because Bush, wisely, held his fire.

Posted by TMLutas at May 17, 2004 08:03 AM