vagaries of the Iraq war are not likely to respond to any quick
presidential actions, the president can promptly and dramatically
reverse the growing alienation of his conservative base -- both
in Washington and around the country.
claim that it is only Washington eggheads and activists who are
disillusioned, misunderstand and underestimate the consequences
of such Washington-based problems. The current Washington Republican
negativity to President Bush is as a stone thrown into a lake
-- it will ripple outward until it causes waves on the distant
shores of the heartland.
is not merely with us obstreperous and self-important conservative
columnists and pundits -- though even our unloved tribe can cause
the president is perilously close to duplicating the estrangement
his father experienced from his congressional allies when G.H.W.Bush
raised taxes in 1990. Just a year out from congressional elections,
Republican congressmen and senators are in the process of making
the practical judgment whether to distance themselves from the
president to save their skins. I don't blame them. (After all,
it's not as if he is currently championing their principles and
decide in the affirmative, their constituents will hear criticisms
rather than support of the president for the next 12 months. The
most dangerous time for any politician is not when his opponents
say rude things about him, but when his own partymen do. They
will start out respectfully disagreeing, but will build to more
flagrant rhetoric as their Democratic Party opponents start raising
and spending more money and start rising in the polls.
for the president to bring his worried allies back into the fold
is now -- and bold action is required.
no actions are without their dissents and downsides. But I believe
four actions could rally the troops to a year of loyal and mostly
principled partisan battle on behalf of their president.
the unfortunate nomination of Miss Miers. Not only is there almost
no enthusiasm for her nomination, I have never seen as much outright
hostility and even anger at an appointment from a president's
own party. Replace her with a highly qualified, full-blooded,
proven conservative nominee (any number of his appointments to
the courts of appeal will do).
can have a principled fight between conservatives and liberals
(a debate that should break in his favor at least 60 percent to
40 percent nationally on the judicial issues), rather than the
current idiotically unuseful fight between blind presidential
loyalists and sighted presidential loyalists.
he should delay pushing for guest worker law changes -- and instead
move full speed ahead with legislation and policies to secure
the border. This must be more than symbolic actions and rhetoric.
It should include serious proposals to dramatically render the
include tens of thousands more border guards, sensor technology,
structures and stiff (i.e. criminal prison terms) employer sanctions
against hiring illegals. When, as now, Democratic governors and
Hillary Clinton have flanked a Republican president to the right
on secure borders, it is manifest that both principle and political
sense is not being exercised in the White House.
should rally his base by fighting for serious budget cuts to offset
the necessary increases in defense and disaster relief spending.
While many congressional Republicans will not like this tough
love, it will be good for them -- and for the national fisc.
political expediency requires him to get on the right side of
gas prices. When the eye-popping third quarter oil company profits
are announced -- he must jawbone the oil executives to start re-investing
that money. If he doesn't, Republicans in Congress will. Regretfully
(though incorrectly), even a majority of conservatives and Republicans
around the country use the word price-gouging to describe current
If the president
were to make these four bold corrections, virtually his entire
base would snap back to his side to do noble and fierce battle
on his behalf. He would not only be substantially true to his
party's principles, but he would move from about 40 percent to
about 48 percent in the polls -- a critical increase.
one other thing. As I write this column, Washington is waiting
"in hope or despair, depending on party affiliation -- for
the special prosecutor to announce his indictment decisions. I
truly hope that none of the president's aides have done anything
to deserve criminal indictment. Some of them are my friends.
But if any
of their actions warrant criminal conviction, the president and
his allies would be grievously ill-advised to minimize such criminal
conduct or disparage the prosecutor. Perjury, if that is the charge,
is a very serious felony. All the more so when committed by a
person in high office.
the president nor conservatives generally should raise the Clinton
defense. Any Republican who measures his integrity by the standards
of Bill Clinton (and his disreputable apologists) is unfit for
If the worst
happens, the president should make a clean break with such conduct
-- and such people. He has three years left in his office. He
owes it both to himself and to the country to take such actions
as to make those years highly ethical and productive. The world
is too dangerous for anything less.