Hawk's Advice to the President  

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

In his Human Events column today, John Hawkins offers the President some advice:

The first rule of politics is to take care of your base first and then reach out to the middle. Unfortunately, Mr. President, you've egregiously broken that rule and allowed an antagonistic relationship to develop between your administration and a significant part of your base. Simply by repairing that rift, you can get your approval rating back up into the mid-forties and perhaps just as importantly, you can staunch the biting criticism from the right that has done so much damage to your presidency. There are a number of ways you can shore up your right flank.
OK. Fair enough. Let's see what you have in mind.
A) Announce that you support splitting the security measures and amnesty parts of the senate bill into two parts. Then say you want to support security, the wall, and tough enforcement measures now and that you want to deal with the guest worker program and other "comprehensive" features that many members of your base find so odious later. By doing this, you can take the venom out of the illegal immigration argument by not holding secure borders hostage to an amnesty program, and yet you can still say that you support the other features that some Hispanic activists, liberals, and big business want.
This is an idea I have long supported, but haven't heard put this way. Build the goddamned wall and get some security around here and THEN start talking about guest workers and whatnot. Good call, John.
B) Let it be known that you think that one of the messages that the American public was sending in 2006 was that they were tired of runaway spending and as a consequence, make a point of vetoing every bill the Democrats send your way that's full of earmarks or new big government programs. Sure, this has never been one of your strong points, but the Democrats are bigger spenders than you've ever been and by keeping them in check, you can earn credit with the base and the American people.
The problem with this is that the President probably DOESN'T think the American public was sending that message at all. I doubt it myself. After all, if the problem is with runaway spending, who REALLY thinks they'd be better off with a Democrat?
C) The new media can help you reconnect with your base. Sit down with Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly, and Fox News for interviews. They'll be flattered that you got together with them and are likely to be particularly friendly. Moreover, you'll be telling conservatives that, "Yes, I am still one of you and want to reach out to you," just by showing up and making the effort.
This may get GW some brownie points, but without doing A and B, it's likely to be futile.
2. Many of the American people feel like we're treading water in Iraq. So, they're lukewarm on continuing to risk the lives of our soldiers in an effort that they believe is just delaying the inevitable. In particular, there's a distinct sense among conservatives that we're fighting with one hand tied behind our back, that our soldiers are being strait-jacketed by ridiculous rules of engagement, and that we're allowing Islamo-fascist thugs in Iran, Syria, and Saudi Arabia along with Sadr's militia to take potshots at our troops with impunity. Moreover, Americans are looking at North Korea's nuclear weapons, Iran building nuclear weapons, Hezbollah engineering a takeover of Lebanon, and the response of the United States has been....what exactly?
Zip. Zero. Nada. And don't expect it to change for the better when the Donks get started next month. I think even Sage would back you here, John. If we're going to fight a war, let our soldiers fight the goddamned war and be done with it. All this pussying around does is make us look like, well, a bunch of pussies.
n 2004, Americans thought they were voting for the guy who stood on top of a pile of rubble at the World Trade Center with a bullhorn and said, "I can hear you! The rest of the world hears you. And the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon!" What happened to that guy? What happened to the guy who said, "Every nation in every region now has a decision to make: Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists." What happened to the guy whom the Europeans kept calling a "cowboy?" Where has that guy been since the election in 2004? The American people need to be shown that you're still engaged, that you're still determined to "bring our enemies to justice or bring justice to our enemies," and that you're still hellbent on doing whatever it takes to win the war in Iraq and the war on terrorism.
With the Donks taking over the House and Senate, this isn't likely. Even if the President decides to get tough again, the Congress will stand in his way, if only to be able to hang him politically for "starting another Vietnam".
The GOP has gotten in trouble on the domestic front for being "democrat light" on issues like spending, illegal immigration, and big government programs. So, when the Democrats take over, don't hesitate to use your veto power and the soapbox that the presidency gives you when they veer off to the left. Draw some real distinctions between what we Republicans believe and what the Democrats believe.
Draw some distinctions. If you spend like a Donk, you might as well be a Donk. If you're weak on security and play the role of socialst like a Donk, then again, you might as well be a Donk. The problem is that President Bush is too busy trying to get along (like his father before him) to stand up to the Donks and be a conservative. Well, that and he's not conservative to begin with.
Also, please, please, Mr. President, start defending yourself. When prominent Democrats accuse you of lying to America, torturing prisoners, or screwing the middle-class, tear a chunk out of them every once in a while instead of letting them get away with slapping you around. Americans tend not to like extreme attacks on their President, but if they hear them day in and day out and you never respond, they start to get the idea that maybe you're staying quiet because what they're saying is true. Don't let that continue to happen, Mr. President.
This has been a major problem in President Bush's presidency from the getgo. The Donks attack, and he just bends over and takes it. He'd be in a lot better shape and may even be looking at a friendly Congress if he had done differently. The Donks stand up and defend themselves even if they have to lie to do it. Why can't "our guy"?

I think Hawk is largely right on this one.