Posted by Adam @ 6:59 am on February 17th 2007

Broder sees looming Bush revival

David Broder had this piece suggesting that Bush is about to stage a Clinton-style comeback after losing his party majorities in House and Senate. Interesting paragraph:

While forcefully making his points, he has depersonalized the differences with his critics and opponents. He has not only vouched for the good intentions of congressional Democrats, he has visited them on their home ground, given them opportunities to question him face to face, and repeatedly outlined areas — aside from Iraq — where he says they could work together on legislation: immigration, energy, education, health care, the budget.

The corrolary thesis, that Bush needed a Democrat majority in at least one of House or Senate, is an interesting one. If it’s true, and Bush does have the necessary skills as we heard back in 2000 when people were talking about his Texas governorship, it’s a pity that he didn’t have to deal with a Democrat majority before now (when he still had more personal capital). Perhaps he could have gotten a lot more done, without having to play to the least pleasant part of his own party to maintain a party unity.


  1. There are a lot of pretty key differences between Clinton and Bush, which I won’t belabor here.

    But perhaps most obvious is that Clinton’s fall from easy riding happened two years into his eight year term, and it’s only in retrospect that we came to view his pursuant victories and popularity to be a victory. He had to basically scrap every ounce of his previous agenda and start fighting for scraps in every nook and cranny of opposition he could, and even then he still faced Congressional mutiny by year 6. I would guess, if you asked President Clinton, he would not tell you that the Republicans taking over Congress made his life any easier.

    Bush, on the other hand, is already well past lame, and his administration, at least for now, seems to have no electoral progeny (no sitting Vice President that’s going to likely lead the party next cycle). Democrats (or most Republicans aiming for higher office or reelection) have almost no reason to invest any political capital in him whatsover. In fact, the President could go very very far towards offering the Democrats a Democrat-friendly agenda and the Dems still might reject it simply on the grounds that they have no reason to take any President Bush handout. Particularly given their electoral position (both of their majorities will probably grow in 2008), it’s hard for them to do the math and not decide to pass on “Bush’s Energy Plan” when they can just offer “Reid’s Energy Plan” in 2009.

    And that’s not just a cheap political ploy on their parts. There’s legitimate reason to wonder why they should trust Bush to come up with a “compromise” and put it into law in the same form the Democrats who voted for it thought they were getting. Legislative “compromises” that turn out to in fact be legislative “trojan horses” have not just been frequent occurrences with this administration, but, at least on marquee issues, has almost been the norm. “Maverick” Republicans (Specter, McCain, the Maine Ladies, Hagel, Warner, etc) know that just as well as the Democratic leadership. Not that I underestimate Congress’ ability to continually get slapped with the same hand.

    And, the signals that the Democratic members of Congress have been getting on the anti-escalation resolutions from the White House can hardly be described as “respectful” and magnanimous. It may sound like that to an editorialist eager to find signs of a new Bush-As-Statesman narrative, but from the legislative trenches, I gather their interpretation about how the issue has been handled by their White House cohorts has been markedly less generous. The dirty boxing that’s been going on in the clinch here hasn’t led any Democrats to believe that the Bush White House has seen the light on conducting fundamental wartime debates, at least from all I’ve been reading.

    No, I suspect Bush is about out of opportunities for leadership. “A historic opportunity for a comeback” is just another way of saying “it’s hard to see how it gets any worse”.

    Comment by Paint CHiPs — 2/17/2007 @ 11:53 am

  2. I think that the lameness thing is the big deal (which I referred to obliquely when talking about his capital). He doesn’t have much to offer apart from his signature, so he comes to Congress as a supplicant; on the other hand, immigration reform, at least, has a fighting chance now. Indeed, the combination of Democrat Congress and Republican President is perhaps the best, to get something through on that. If he hadn’t already screwed the pooch on Social Security reform, something might have been possible there, too.

    I can still accept the suggestion that the next twoish years will be the best of his presidency, but that’s a low bar.

    Comment by Adam — 2/17/2007 @ 12:13 pm

  3. Well, depends what bar you’re using for “best”. If it’s the “getting things done” bar, it’s hard to imagine his last years will be anything but his least effective.

    Of course, for you and I, that’s about the same measure as “best”, in President Bush’s case.

    Comment by Paint CHiPs — 2/17/2007 @ 2:02 pm

  4. Immigration reform is possible, I think; the Dems want it and GOP diehards will largely blame Bush for it and hate themselves for voting him in.

    He might also veto some stuff that Congress send him, which would be nice.

    Comment by Adam — 2/17/2007 @ 2:08 pm

  5. […] perhaps leading to the comeback David Broder predicted back in February (and which I posted about here)? Not such a good idea, suggests Bob Novak, because this is the wrong fight to pick: All the […]

    Pingback by The Crossed Pond » Stubborn looks better when you’re right — 4/26/2007 @ 7:58 am

  6. […] quoted Broder a few times, such as here (a somewhat infamous piece that was brought up again here) and here; I don’t have any […]

    Pingback by The Crossed Pond » Begala on Broder — 4/26/2007 @ 6:39 pm

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