Okay, I just happened to notice that this was the most emailed story at the Times, pretty rare for a jewel from the Times Select Collection, so I had to slip under the fence and check it out. It's the holidays. I'm hungry for some punditry.
President George W. Bush has just entered his third term.
I'm sure that's wrong. It's still...
That's right. He's a three-term president.
Well, okay. This is the Times, after all.
His first term was from 2001 to 2004, and it was dominated by 9/11, which Mr. Bush skillfully used to take a hard-right Republican agenda on taxes and war with Iraq, which was going nowhere on 9/10, and drive it into a 9/12 world.
Skillfully? Because it seems to me that...
His second term was very brief. It lasted from his re-election in November 2004 until Election Day 2005. This was an utterly wasted term. It was dominated by an attempt to privatize Social Security, which the country rejected, political scandals involving I. Lewis Libby Jr., Tom DeLay and Bill Frist, a ham-fisted response to Katrina and a mishandling of the Iraq war to such a degree that many Democrats and Republicans have begun to vote "no confidence" in the Bush-Cheney war performance. If ours were a parliamentary system, Mr. Bush would have had to resign by now.
That's some fine insightin' there, Tom, but if ours was any sort of system a sane person would wish on...
So now begins Mr. Bush's third term. What will he do with it?
Wait, that's it? Today is the First Day of the Rest of George Bush's Life? Okay, I snuck in here, but some people paid good money for this. What happened to all that shit from the second term? He's calling a mulligan?
Mr. Bush has two choices.
Would one of them involve a gas oven with the pilot light out?
One is to continue governing as though he's still running against John McCain in South Carolina.
Does that mean accuse the entire country of fathering an interracial child?
That means pushing a hard-right strategy based on dividing the country to get the 50.1 percent he needs to push through more tax cuts, while ignoring our real problems: the deficit, health care, energy, climate change and Iraq. More slash-and-burn politics like that will be a disaster.
Yeah. It's a shame, too, 'cause it was so successful the first time around.
Indeed, at a time when a decent outcome in Iraq is still possible and we are at the most important political moment in Baghdad -- the first national election based on an Iraqi-written constitution -- it was appalling to watch Mr. Bush and Dick Cheney using their bully pulpits to act like two Rove attack dogs, accusing Democrats of being less than patriotic on Iraq.
Yeah, I was really disappointed in them, too. Say, about that "decent outcome in Iraq..."
Yes, we need to stay the course for now in Iraq, but we can't stay the course alone or divided. That's the point.
Oh, good, I was beginning to wonder if you had a...
Sure, some Democrats goaded them with reckless remarks...
The rat bastids. Wait, do they get a do-over too?
...but they are not in power. Where are the adults?
Daphne Merkin found some the other day. But you're not gonna like it--one of them is still investigating Bush's second term. Plus they dress funny.
We can't afford this nonsense, while also ignoring our energy crisis, the deficit, health care, climate change and Social Security
Say, Tom, would now be a good time to bring up what you were saying about the war back in...
[S]aid David Rothkopf, author of Running the World: The Inside Story of the National Security Council and the Architects of American Power,..."George W. Bush may well be seen as the president who, by refusing to address these urgent questions when they needed to be addressed, invited America's decline."
Forget biology, he needs to start working on a generation of faith-based historians.
Truly, I hope Mr. Bush rises to the challenge. We do not have three years to waste. To do that, though, Mr. Bush would need to become a very different third-term president, with a much more centrist agenda and style. If he does, he still has time to be a bridge to the future. If he doesn't, the resources he will have squandered and the size of the problems he will have ignored will put him in the running for one of our worst presidents ever.
Wait just a gol'-durned minute. I read all the way to the end of this thing and that's the second choice? George Bush could suddenly morph into someone competent? No "he could invent an army of killer robot monkeys," no "give each American 300 hits of Ecstasy and a free iPod"? 'Cause I really like those better. Especially the second one.