Spring break was good for me and for you, but not so pleasant for the commander in chief. As dark rain clouds swept across Portland for the entire week so, too, did metaphorical ones descend into D.C.
George W. Bush’s honeymoon is apparently over. I could not believe that at mid-March we still had to listen to the bleating of Ari Fleischer’s assertions of presidential control and smooth operations at ground zero.
However, it is effectively over (in reality, the unraveling begins, well, at the very beginning). So, as Bush flashes his grin and seriously believes that this is enough to maintain support in a complicated universe of media-savvy consumers, the opposition gains momentum.
This all begins with that pesky tax cut that Bush just cannot live without. His 1.6 trillion bonanza was sideswiped by Joseph Lieberman’s $300 promised insta-refund. Otherwise a hysterically funny and potentially chaotic plan, it did surprising damage to Bush’s fantasy-tax-cut island. Three hundred dollars versus 1.6 trillion, the irony is roll-on-the-floor funny. And poor George’s fiefdom was more than angry when public opinion seemed to support Joe’s “realistic” numbers.
This was the beginning of a few more chilling numbers for the Bush administration. Though, the administration is still blessed with a high majority of American approval (tenuous, at best, just ask the Taco Bell dog or that horrifying Pepsi girl), the popular support for his domestic policies and handling of foreign affairs is rapidly sinking to White House basement levels.
It seems we “like” Mr. Bush, but as a neighbor at the yearly barbecue (you know, where you just wish he would quit calling you by that annoying nickname and stop slapping you on the back). And so continues the strange acceptance of a selected president.
His policies go against the lean of American sentiment, his “compassionate conservatism” is showing its true colors of fundamentalism and his foreign policy is so defense-industry oriented and situated that Colin Powell looks like a gun show salesman on tour. Especially since being forced to about-face and abandon the precious talks between North and South Korea after Bush emphasized “enemies” create room for American negotiating power and weapon sales and service (with a smile, of course).
Again, though, average Americans are willing to forgive the momentary blunders, but even so, Democrats, consumer advocates, environmentalists, unions, pro-choice groups, and last, but certainly not least, Barbara Streisand, are collecting a political arsenal for the upcoming 2002 Congressional elections. The cache is growing by the day as the administration pursues conservative policy that, no matter how they spin it, is far outside mainstream American sensibility. (Arsenic over ice, anyone?)