George W. Bush has been able to do almost anything he wanted for the last six years. But when voters removed the Republicans from power in November 2006, analysts agreed they were really sending a message to the President. Here are ten tips to help Bush in the next year, and throughout the remainder of his Presidency.
1. Work with the Democrats in the House. The House controls the budget. If President Bush is going to continue to fund the war in Iraq, he will need to make some friends with the Representatives. Reaching out to Nancy Pelosi and congratulating her when her party won power was a good first step, but Bush needs to prove that this is more than just a conciliatory show.
2. Work with the Democrats in the Senate. The Senate has long been considered the more powerful and more prestigious of the two Congressional branches. They have the power to approve judicial nominees, declare war, and many other powers. If any such needs arise, President Bush will need to have many friends in the Senate in order to get his agenda approved.
3. Replace Dick Cheney as Vice President. This is a risky step. While some would argue that it would show lack of confidence in his chosen administration, the simple truth is that in two years, Bush’s Presidency will be over. Cheney has no plans to run, and would likely lose even his party’s nomination if he did. A switch in authority to a younger upcoming Republican candidate would signify that President Bush is ready to embrace the change the nation wants. Along with other changes that would bring a spike in his approval rating, President Bush would be able to help this person into office.
4. Listen to other nations. When some nations balked at sending troops to a war that they considered “unwinnable”, President Bush ignored and even vilified them. Now, even Bush’s advisors are questioning a victory in Iraq. To rebuild relationships with other nations, President Bush needs to send a strong signal that he is listening to them and taking their opinion under consideration.
5. Repair relationships with other nations. Listening to other nations is entirely different than repair relationships with them. Some of our strongest supporters are upset with the way the US conducts itself on the international stage. Pierre Trudeau once said, in talking about being neighbors with the US, ” Living next to you is in some ways like sleeping with an elephant. No matter how friendly and even-tempered is the beast, if I can call it that, one is affected by every twitch and grunt. ” The world is becoming more and more global each day, and the US is going to need all the support we can get. This involves not only listening to them, but repairing our relationships with some of our strongest allies.
6. Seek help from new advisors. It’s not just the Vice President. Rove was incredibly wrong about the outcome of the election when he assured Bush that the Republicans would win. There needs to be a strong shake-up in the administration. At this point, with his approval rating in the low thirties, replacing people in the administration would not be seen as a negative thing by the public.
7. Pledge money to international issues. Darfur has been hit hard. Making an announcement out of nowhere that you are pledging money to other nations that are experiencing poverty would inspire great faith in the constituents. It says that the economy is good enough to share our wealth, it promotes good will, and it inspires other nations to follow suit. Take a lesson from Hollywood. When stars make a very public mistake, their publicists will often encourage them to make a large charitable donation. It takes the limelight away from their mistakes.
8. If you don’t remove the troops from Iraq, begin talking about a timeline for pulling them out. While this has begun already, it needs to make the evening news in a louder way. The recent election and the Democratic sweep was in large part due to growing uneasiness with the war. Although we sincerely may not be able to pull out this very moment, talking about it may be enough to increase Bush’s numbers and support.
9. Support tax cuts. Nobody wants to see their taxes increase. Though it isn’t necessarily good for a long-term plan, giving tax cuts and credits to the middle-class will be enough to make many people begin to support President Bush once again. Middle-class tax cuts will help the Republicans in the next election, because they will be able to point to a victory.
10. Support “Democratic” issues. Staying away from the truly divisive issues, and supporting causes that are traditionally viewed as being “Democratic” in nature signals that Bush is willing to make a change to become the more moderate nation that many Americans want. Increasing minimum wage, fixing Social Security, and allowing the government to negotiate better rates for Medicare prescription drugs are all steps that would not reduce Bush’s “base”, but would cause some swing voters to support him and increase his approval rating.
Using these ten tips, George W. Bush can recover from the sting of the election, not let the rest of his term be considered a “lame-duck” administration, and help his party in the next election. Although it is too soon to tell what the Republicans will face in the next election, they will need a figure to help steer their party in the right direction. As an outgoing President, all eyes would typically be on President Bush for that job, but he will need to improve his own image first.