President Bush’s Second Term

The London Times offers a balanced assessment of the prospects for President Bush’s second term:

Most second-term presidencies are pale imitations of the first four years in power. They have, historically, been undercut by three factors: agenda exhaustion, personnel depletion and congressional erosion.
None of these constraints applies to this President. He still has plenty of proposals for domestic policy left in him. These range from making permanent tax cuts that were passed in his opening term and the partial privatisation of American pensions to his ambition to curtail the outrageous costs of the US legal system. His new Cabinet members are not noticeably weaker than his previous colleagues. His party runs each branch of Congress and, thanks to the November election results, with greater majorities. For the first time since 1937 a re-elected president who has been in Washington for four years starts again with congressional enhancement, not erosion.
This presidency will thus be different. Mr Bush will be more active at home than is typical of second-term chief executives. He will not be forced to immerse himself in foreign affairs and, when he does, the limitations on him will largely be practical (particularly the course of events in Iraq) and not political. He may also have a very distinct notion of what he wants his legacy to be than other presidents. Rather than engage in the implausible pursuit of the Nobel Peace Prize, he might aspire to be remembered as the man who won the War on Terror.
The wild card here is scandal. It has been the curse of second-term Administrations. It embarrassed Eisenhower, triggered the resignation of Nixon, shook the Reagan White House to its foundations and led Mr Clinton to be impeached by the House of Representatives before being acquitted in the Senate. If he can avoid such ethical quicksand, this President


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