President George W. Bush: “Chickens Come Home to Roost…”
While many observers and commentators are totally absorbed in guesstimating who would be the next president of the United States of America, few are still devoting the news space to finding out whether the present incumbent in the White House would be able to achieve anything before his term in office comes to a close in January 2009.
Among the exception is The Economist: “Few presidents have a pleasant time of it in their last year in office. Their chickens come home to roost. Their political capital dries up. Their advisers start worrying where their next pay cheque will come from. The entire country is fixated on the question of who will replace them.
“Woodrow Wilson was humiliated by America’s failure to join the League of Nations and then incapacitated by a stroke. Dwight Eisenhower was haunted by Sputnik and his multiplying medical problems. Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton had to deal with the fallout from Iran-Contra and Monica Lewinsky respectively.
“George Bush is likely to have a better year than Wilson (he is remarkably fit for a 61-year-old), but a worse one than most other presidents. Yet 2007 was a surprisingly good year after the debacles of 2006. The ‘surge’ in Iraq proved fairly successful—and vindicated Mr Bush’s decision to back his own judgment against the collective wisdom of the Iraq Study Group.
“The White House also played a successful defensive game against the Democratic-controlled Congress, outmanoeuvring it on everything from Iraq funding to the federal budget to energy bills to wire-tapping. Mr Bush blocked the expansion of a children’s health insurance programme of which he disapproved. He is now talking about ending his presidency ‘in a sprint’…
“This is unlikely. Mr Bush has little going for him in 2008. Only one in three Americans thinks that he is doing a good job. Almost all of his closest political advisers have decamped. Congress is determined to get its revenge and block anything that he sends it. And in reality he has much less than a year to play with.”
Personally I would be more interested in knowing what President Bush would do after retirement. His two dear/closest friends did unusual things. Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair decided to change his faith after quitting office – from Protestant to Catholic. Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf (although he removed his General’s uniform under pressure) decided to cling on to presidential office despite continued public protest in the country (described as “the world’s most dangerous place”).
(Illustration above courtesy The Economist/Kevin Kallaugher)