Jewish World Review Feb. 13, 2003 / 11 Adar I, 5763

Bob Tyrrell

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The new political establishment | The sight of George W. Bush comfortably ensconced in the White House and of his liberal opponents forlornly shivering in the cold vividly signifies that the winds of history have ushered in a new era.

Bush II's control of all three branches of government and the presence in his government of public figures whose eminence traces from the "Reagan Revolution" demonstrates that this presidency represents not just a change of government but the arrival of a new political era -- marking the final passing of the liberals, so-called. As Robert Bartley recently noted in The Wall Street Journal, the presidency of George W. Bush probably marks the rise of a new political establishment.

This fall's midterm election should have cleared up any doubts that sensible people might have harbored about the 2000 election. In electoral districts all around the country, voters had the opportunity to rectify what the Democrats decried as a great wrong, Al Gore's defeat in the Electoral College. With a boldness that New Frontiersmen once celebrated in JFK, President Bush placed his popularity on the line by campaigning widely. The result was the rare improvement of a sitting president's power in both houses of Congress. Now, with the Democrats in disarray and the president's popularity about where Ronald Reagan's was after his crushing 1984 re-election, commentators might begin to wonder if the Republicans have found themselves another political prodigy in W., as the snide are wont to call him.

He is as much a man of principle as Reagan. That the principles are an organic extension of principles Reagan governed with in the 1980s (and that Bill Clinton mimicked in the 1990s) adds to the sense that with this presidency a new political establishment has arisen. Yet though President Bush's policies are rooted in the domestic and foreign policies of President Reagan, his management of the White House is different.

To be sure, he seems to have Reagan's mastery of political timing. He has the same human touch as Reagan and an emphasis on values rather than being a policy wonk. Yet this president is a more energetic chief executive than Reagan. He, not Karen Hughes or Karl Rove or anyone else, is calling the shots at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Bush is a political leader and an active White House executive.

The result is that this White House is a more tightly run operation than the Reagan White House. It is pretty much free of leaks and of bickering. Equally impressive, this president has stood by his policies and appointments resolutely. This is apparent in his perseverance on tax cuts and on judicial appointments. After the public injustice of Senate Democrats' smearing such perfectly unexceptional Bush judicial nominees as Judge Charles Pickering and Miguel Estrada, the president simply re-nominated them. The Reagan White House, to its shame, backed off from appointments when the Democrats turned up the heat in the kitchen -- for instance, when they smeared Judge Robert Bork. President Bush is more resolute and more loyal.

The president's loyalty and sense of honor were on admirable display after the liberal snipes set out to defame former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, whom the White House had nominated to chair the investigation of the Sept. 11 attacks. I was out of the country during this latest display of liberal witch hunting. I wish I had been around for the fight. For decades, Kissinger's bona fides as a statesman and patriot have merely grown. All the paranoid charges against him, claims of plotting in Latin America and scheming in Southeast Asia, have proven as vaporous as the liberal Democrats' more recent paranoia over October surprises and Vast Right-Wing plots.

In three volumes of memoirs, a superb book on diplomacy and now a history of the Vietnam War due in bookstores this month, Kissinger has answered his critics to the satisfaction of any objective observer. He has counseled presidents and foreign statesmen. He has served the commonweal with tireless public service. He now ranks with the nation's greatest elder statesmen. Yet Democratic partisans sought to exploit his international business contacts as reason for denying him a return to public service. The Bush administration stood by him, rightly pointing out that it is his vast experience in the world that would make him ideal for assessing Sept.11 and the performance of American intelligence agencies.

Ultimately, Kissinger decided that the Democrats' partisanship would impair his commission's work, and he withdrew from it. Yet the administration's support of him never wavered. Kissinger's reputation remained intact among the reasonable and still more lurid among the paranoiacs. Future appointees have no reason to fear that serving the Bush administration will damage their good name, save with the reactionary left.

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JWR contributor Bob Tyrrell is editor in chief of The American Spectator. Comment by clicking here.

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01/02/03: Missing Moi
12/27/02: The grizzled and menacing-looking senator in Confederate drag is a Dem
12/24/02: Uprooting Christianity in the Holy Land
12/20/02: Under fire, Lott showed an ignobleness that is embarrassing
11/26/02: Bartley's enemies have been routed
11/14/02: Clarence Thomas and the segregationist Mississippi sheriff
11/07/02: I muffed up
10/31/02: Is the American university turning its back on change, on progress?
10/24/02: So why aren't the Dems buoyant?
10/17/02: Mourning the loss of the "yellow-belly"
10/10/02: American politics at its most ignominious
10/03/02: A man above the law, a bully
09/26/02: Is Bob Greene a victim of an anti-Clinton backlash?
09/19/02: I knew Mafiosi and
09/12/02: Chickens and poseurs
09/05/02: Sympathizing with the Europols
08/29/02: 9-11 did not change us forever
08/22/02: Public persons frivoling with serious matters
08/15/02: Beachcombing among the fat of the land
08/08/02: They pave the way for corruption, not personal responsibility
08/01/02: Believing the unbelievable
07/25/02: The congressional posse comitatus
07/18/02: Cosmopolitan Arab fashion
07/11/02: What the prez actually knows
07/04/02: The vindication of a truly original thinker
06/27/02: The perfect book for Hillary
06/20/02: To say that they were ordinary is not to slight them
06/13/02: Daschle must begin to act like an adult
06/06/02: Lack of "intelligence" --- and sheer stupidity
05/30/02: Revealing a carefully guarded media secret
05/23/02: In these times, thank Heaven for Clinton!
05/16/02: Fast Times at the Church of the Nativity
05/09/02: "Name the Prettiest Suicide Bomber"
05/02/02: Vindication for the Boy Scouts
04/25/02: A topic almost no other columnist will touch
04/18/02: 'Conventional Wisdom' --- and those who defy it
04/11/02: Let the Sun shine in
04/05/02: Hooded men of color in sheets
04/01/02: A McCain-Feingold Act for Hollywood
03/21/02: Yakkin' on Yates
03/15/02: No role for Paul Volcker in Enron: the movie
03/07/02: My membership in the Communist Party U.S.A.
02/27/02: This award is bestowed by 'contrarians'
02/21/02: Mike Tyson: Made for Washington?
02/14/02: Enron as underdog?
02/07/02: Freed from the presence of money -- hard or soft -- most politicians would be just as bad
01/31/02: Needed: Bush to make a preemptive strike against his enemies . Ones who'd like to see him fail even during war
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01/17/02: Debonair prez should begin to do the High Life
01/10/02: Move over Twinkies --- "the acne medicine made him do it!"
01/03/02: Leaving the Nazis looking comparatively humane
12/27/01: A "self-made journalist"
12/20/01: Calamities and unanticipated benefits
12/13/01: America's grief ought not to give comfort to those who caused it
12/06/01: Leahy, the strict civil libertarian!? A short-term exploiter of the Constitution is more like it
11/29/01: Welcome to Afghan, Maryland?
11/26/01: So, why don't more folks hate us?
11/15/01: America's quagmire and other certainties
11/09/01: No longer the smug statists, the prodigal Keynesians?
11/01/01: The New Seriousness
10/25/01: Bright lights and the Taliban
10/18/01: Is bin-Laden propaganda from Western intelligence?
10/12/01: No yellow ribbons
10/05/01: Bubba's back --- again!
09/28/01: Exposing peacetime's frauds
09/21/01: So protected, we're vulnerable
09/14/01: At Barbara Olson's home
09/11/01: Duh! All conservatives are racists
08/31/01: Arafat's terrorists have created their own hell
08/24/01: Time for some political prophecy
08/16/01: They claim to be doing so much good
08/10/01: Visiting the source of the White House braintrust
08/03/01: Morality and reality
07/31/01: Blinded by success?
07/24/01: The latest Kennedy capitulation in Massachusetts
07/13/01: Talk about tawdry
07/06/01: Delighting in the Dictator
06/29/01: The Godphobes
06/21/01: Fashionable Washington is sempiternally in a stew
06/15/01: The limits of hypocrisy
06/08/01: Flagging our general apathy

© 2001, Creators Syndicate