While we're floating ideas and theories about why Bush’s approval ratings are falling, I can’t pass up this brilliant piece of analysis from National Review’s Victor Davis Hanson. Hanson advances the theory that Bush’s foreign policy brilliance has raised expectations so much on the domestic front that Bush is now falling short:
But I think the answer lies instead in a strange paradox of George W. Bush and the optimistic prospects he has raised about solving problems of the first order. The President has shown himself so resolute in matters of foreign policy that he has raised the bar of his expected performance on the home front.
That is, by standing nearly alone in the Middle East, by never wavering in the face of unprecedented venom, and by weathering everything from Abu Ghraib to the televised beheadings, Bush has established himself a man of principle who welcomes the chance to offer unpopular but needed solutions to real crises.
If Jimmy Carter, Bush I, or Bill Clinton were president, most Americans would shrug that these are impracticable problems. But not with George W. Bush, whose forcefulness abroad makes us think he will similarly swagger in and solve equally unpopular dilemmas at home.
That’s right, the theory is that Bush walks on water in foreign policy matters and that’s what’s hurting him. Hanson is a historian by trade and has written some interesting stuff, so it is sad that he’s trying to rewrite the history of the Iraq war. In the real world, the Iraq critics are ones who are right:
Rep. Walter B. Jones Jr. is a conservative Republican from North Carolina who voted to authorize the use of force in Iraq. So it jarred all the more yesterday when Jones turned his fury on Richard N. Perle, the Pentagon adviser who provided the Bush administration with brainpower for the Iraq war.
Jones, who said he has signed more than 900 condolence letters to kin of fallen soldiers, pronounced himself "incensed" with Perle. "It is just amazing to me how we as a Congress were told we had to remove this man . . . but the reason we were given was not accurate," Jones told Perle at a House Armed Services Committee hearing. Jones said the administration should "apologize for the misinformation that was given. To me there should be somebody who is large enough to say 'We've made a mistake.' I've not heard that yet."
As chairman of the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board, Perle had gone before the same committee in 2002 and smugly portrayed retired Army Gen. Wesley K. Clark, who urged caution in Iraq, as "hopelessly confused" and spouting "fuzzy stuff" and "dumb clichés."
Thirty months and one war later, Perle and Clark returned to the committee yesterday. But this time lawmakers on both sides hectored Perle, while Clark didn't bother to suppress an "I told you so."