Still rel­e­vant

The Washington Times Weekly - - National -

“WhenRepub­li­canswon­theHouse andSe­natein1994,Pres­i­den­tClin­ton was badly shaken,” Fred Barnes writes in the Weekly Stan­dard.

“At a White House press con­fer­ence, a re­porter sug­gested Clin­ton might no longer be ‘rel­e­vant’ as a leader. It took weeks for Clin­ton to re­cover his com­po­sure. It turned out, of course, that he was as rel­e­vant as ever as a na­tional leader. Pres­i­dents al­ways are,” Mr. Barnes said.

“If Pres­i­dent Bush was shaken, he didn’t show it. He waited only hours af­ter Democrats had cap­tured Congress [two weeks ago] to as­sert him­self. And he in­stantly changed the me­dia story from an Elec­tion Day re­pu­di­a­tion of his pres­i­dency to his re­moval of De­fense Sec­re­tary Don­ald Rums­feld. He fol­lowed that with a press con­fer­ence at which he listed the is­sues where com­pro­mise might be reached with con­gres­sional Democrats. This was be­fore he’d met with ei­ther Demo­cratic lead­ers Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reid.

“Bush is a lame duck, but only tech­ni­cally (he won’t run again). He in­tends to be a very live duck in his fi­nal two years in the White House. When he talked to Henry Paul­son, then the CEO of Gold­man Sachs, last spring about be­com­ing Trea­sury sec­re­tary, he promised to push hard for a se­ri­ous agenda no mat­ter what the out­come of the midterm elec­tion. The re­sult was bad for Bush, but he plans to keep his prom­ise.

“Is Bush suf­fer­ing from delu­sions of grandeur? Not re­ally. True, he’ll have to make con­ces­sions, prob­a­bly painful ones, on leg­isla­tive ini­tia­tives. And his prospects for get­ting con­ser­va­tive ju­di­cial nom­i­nees through the Se­nate are slim.

“But as we learned from the Gin­grich years, you can’t gov­ern from Capi­tol Hill. The pres­i­dent, even weak­ened as Bush is, re­mains the cen­tral fig­ure in Wash­ing­ton.”

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