January 20, 2008 marks the first day of the last year of the preznitcy of George W. Bush. What will the last year hold for the United States of Merika? Well, damned if I know, but I think there is no doubt that as long as Chimpy is in office, it will be….
Original DVD cover.
What do some of the newsguys think? Let’s check in with a few.
From The Economist:
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, with his power ebbing, he faces a mountain of problems at home and abroad. The economy is softening. A wave of foreclosures is damping consumer spending and spreading anger. The fires of populism are burning ever more brightly. There are widespread calls for a stimulus package to revive the economy.
Mr Bush has no choice but to pursue a modest domestic agenda. The man who once mocked his predecessor for playing “small ball” is doing just that. The White House talks about focusing on “kitchen table” issues such as tweaking the health-care system. Mr Bush even recently travelled to Chesapeake Bay to announce federal protection for two species of fish, the striped bass and the red drum.
But there are nevertheless a couple of matters that qualify as a bit more than “small ball”. Mr Bush will do his best to defend the two most important domestic achievements of his first term—the No Child Left Behind Act (which aims to raise standards in schools and which needs to be reauthorised) and his tax cuts (which are due to expire in 2010).
Mr Bush is also determined to push through what is left of his trade agenda, including pacts with Colombia and South Korea.
Mr Bush’s last year will be dominated by foreign policy. This is partly inevitable—he is fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as a more general “war on terror”.
From The New York Times:
WASHINGTON, Nov. 23 — As President Bush looks toward his final year in office, with Democrats controlling Congress and his major domestic initiatives dead on Capitol Hill, he is shifting his agenda to what aides call “kitchen table issues” — small ideas that affect ordinary people’s lives and do not take an act of Congress to put in place.
Over the past few months, Mr. Bush has sounded more like the national Mr. Fix-It than the man who began his second term with a sweeping domestic policy agenda of overhauling Social Security, remaking the tax code and revamping immigration law. Now, with little political capital left, Mr. Bush, like President Bill Clinton before him, is using his executive powers — and his presidential platform — to make little plans sound big.
Yet some of Mr. Bush’s new initiatives have had little practical effect. Fishing for red drum and striped bass, for instance, is already prohibited in federal waters; Mr. Bush’s action will take effect only if the existing ban is lifted. And the Federal Aviation Administration can already open military airspace on its own, without presidential action.
Democrats, like Senator Byron L. Dorgan of North Dakota, who runs the Senate’s Democratic Policy Committee, dismiss the actions as window dressing. “It’s more words than substance,” said Mr. Dorgan said, adding he was surprised to see a president who has often seemed averse to federal regulation using his regulatory authority.
“He’s kind of a late bloomer,” Mr. Dorgan said.
From the Los Angeles Times:
WASHINGTON — Eight years ago, George W. Bush’s stay-at-home proclivities, seen by some as evidence of a lack of interest in the world beyond U.S. borders, became a troublesome issue as he ran for the White House.
As the president approaches his final year in office, his agenda is so heavily booked that he is already scheduled to touch down on every continent except Australia and Antarctica.
His itinerary will take him to the heart of the disputed lands of the Middle East for the first time as president, to Asia twice within roughly four weeks, and to sub-Saharan Africa for the second time as president.
It adds up to at least 70,000 miles and a final year heavily focused on foreign policy, practiced amid an emerging generation of foreign leaders likely to be on the world stage long after Bush leaves office.
The extensive travel raises a key question: Can a lame-duck president achieve lasting foreign-policy goals during his dwindling months in office? The record of past presidents suggests that it is difficult, if not impossible.
However, for an unpopular president in his final year, with Congress in the hands of the other party, it may be the smartest move.
“It’s a lot easier and more comfortable to go to Moscow, Russia, than Moscow, Idaho,” said Kenneth M. Duberstein, who was President Reagan’s final White House chief of staff. “It’s easier to do foreign affairs than to grapple with problems here at home when the presidential campaign has passed you by.”
Well, kids, while I am neither an economist nor a political pundit, I do have an opinion as to what Chimpy will be doing during his last year in office. I think he will be very busy.