President Bush held a news conference Tuesday. The Washington Post led with Mr. Bush's declaration that he is still "relevant" to the government. Well, okay. But it's hard to imagine Abraham Lincoln or Franklin Roosevelt or, come to that, Richard Nixon needing to tell reporters that they were relevant. I mean, they were presidents, so of course they were relevant.
This guy? Maybe he did need to say it.
I've thought for years that the worst president in my time was Jimmy Carter. Distinguished ex-prez, of course, but if you're old enough you remember the inflation; you remember his surprise when his friends the Soviets invaded Afghanistan; you remember the fifty-some Americans held hostage in Iran and Mr. Carter's unsuccessful helicopter raid meant to free them--they were finally freed, as it happens, the day Ronald Reagan was inaugurated to succeed the one-term Carter. You remember the video of the president fighting off an attack rabbit while in a canoe (No, I'm not making that up.).
But nowadays, I'm starting to wonder. Mr. Bush could give Mr. Carter a run for his money. No attack rabbits, of course. But after a fine start in the days after 9/11, with the country united in pursuit of the Taliban, the Bush presidency has unraveled. We invaded Iraq for no reason that was ever adequately explained. It hasn't gone well but this president is stubborn and clearly intends to keep the war going and let his successor end it, if he or she wants to.
Domestically? Well, what would you list as the three major accomplishments of the Bush administration? Don't all speak at once, please; I'm trying to write down your answers because I can't think of any. Spying on Americans without a warrant? He likes that but it trashes the Constitution though, to be fair, freedom and privacy usually get abused in wartime.
Bush also said his veto power makes him relevant and that's true. But do you give high marks for vetoing expanded health care for children because he needs to spend the money on the war? Maybe not.
It's true the public gives the Congress as low a rating as it does the president, which probably proves that the voters are paying attention after all. And no, the Congress hasn't passed any of the appropriations bills yet. Maybe it's just a bad year for government at either end of Pennsylvania Ave. But we're more used to do-nothing Congresses than we are to incompetent presidents.
Oh well, there's an election coming up; maybe we can make things better. Maybe.