Second term blues

by Beacon Staff • November 2, 2005

The month of October has most likely been one of the worst for the White House since Bush took office, but in the past week, it seems things have really come to a head.,"To say it has been a bad week for the Bush administration would be an understatement.

The month of October has most likely been one of the worst for the White House since Bush took office, but in the past week, it seems things have really come to a head. On Oct. 26, the number of American soldiers killed in Iraq reached 2,000. Simultaneously, White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove and Vice President Dick Cheney's Chief of Staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby awaited potential indictments in the case of the Valerie Plame leak, which finally came for the latter on Oct. 28. Then, Harriet Miers, after humiliating and unrelenting criticism from conservatives, withdrew from her nomination for the Supreme Court.

What do we make of all this, and what does it mean for Bush's remaining three years in office? This question is unanswerable now, as it relies on two factors that have yet to be seen: Bush's success or failure with his new Supreme Court nominee, Appeals Court Judge Samuel Alito, and how things go in Iraq.

In nominating Alito to the bench, Bush has satisfied his conservative base, which is already praising the nominee as a well-established and well-credentialed judge in the mold of right-wing hero Antonin Scalia. The Miers fiasco proved that members of the right were not satisfied with a "trust me" candidate from Bush.

They wanted someone with a paper trail and a reputation, and they got that in Alito, who was previously most famous for being the lone dissenter on Planned Parenthood v. Casey, a case regarding spouse notifications for an abortion.

While the Miers withdrawal was good news for the country because she was inarguably unqualified, the reaction from the right regarding Alito suggests it was probably best for the president as well.

With the right back on his side regarding the court, Bush has only Senate Democrats to contend with. Barring any unforeseen events, Alito is going to get all the GOP votes he needs for confirmation, meaning that the filibuster is the Dems' only real means of blocking him. And since their only major beef so far is that he's too conservative for them, it is unlikely the voters would approve of that drastic option.

Yet, despite the fact that things look pretty good for Bush regarding the court, his troubles are far from over. Perhaps the biggest story of the week is Friday's indictment of Libby.

The timing could not be worse for the Bush administration. Many say the focus on the CIA leak sheds light on White House official's tactics in the build-up to the war. Since I am no great fan of Bush's inner circle, I was happy to see charges brought against Libby.

It seems as though there is little question he lied under oath to the Grand Jury. The actions of the administration officials in the selling of the war and the current struggle in Iraq, however, must be viewed as two separate issues.

Rove and Libby were wrong to play dirty politics and lead a smear campaign in the public relations battle. But, this does not, on its own, strip the mission in Iraq of its value. We are in Iraq now, and that war should be judged based on the situation on the ground, not on the decidedly flawed way we got there.

As for the 2,000 mark, it is indeed a somber one. Though Americans lost over 400,000 men in World War II, it was viewed as indisputably necessary and just-not so with Iraq.

Last week, I argued on these pages why I feel this war is the right one. That is precisely what the administration needs to do. It needs to remind the public why this is in our best interest and what is at stake if we pull out.

The right wing is pleased with Alito, so hopefully they will once again get behind Bush on Iraq, which should be the main focus in this country.

If things go well in Iraq, and if the public gets behind the war once again, then they'll likely pay less attention to the leak business.

Bush certainly faces an uphill battle, but he still has three years left in his term. Partisan politics aside, however, it is important that Americans do not root for him to fail.

To hope-as many opponents of the administration seem to do-that the situation in Iraq gets worse so the president's support erodes further is sadistic. There are ways to oppose the administration's policies without stooping to that inexcusable level.

Like many, I'm hoping for Democrats in 2006 who offer real solutions and a real alternative. They cannot expect, nor do they deserve, support by default simply because things are bad for the party in power.

This was a bad week for George W. Bush. Future weeks, months and, indeed, his entire presidency, will be judged on the decisions he will make regarding all these issues. If nothing else, it should be interesting.

Patrick Boyle is a sophomore political communication major and a contributer to The Beacon.

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