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Jewish World Review Dec. 7, 2001 / 22 Kislev, 5762

Dick Morris

Dick Morris
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The non-partisan president -- PRESIDENT BUSH is the helpless pitiful giant of American politics. Imprisoned -- if not entombed -- by his 90% popularity he has to focus on being the president of the United States to the practical exclusion of being head of the Republican Party.

His unique position, bearing the weight of the world on his shoulders as he assumes a posture of leadership unmatched in two generations, makes it impossible for him to resume the role of a pigmy partisan in haggling about stimulus packages and the like.

The result is that the Republican Party is without a leader. It has only a saint. There is nobody to go to New Jersey and Virginia and fight for the Republican candidates. Nor is there a president to attack the Democrats for stimulating gridlock by refusing to negotiate in good faith. There isn't even someone to assume a leadership role in replacing former Governor Gilmore as head of the Republican National Committee.

Were Bush to wade into the partisan swamps of Washington, he would not only sacrifice his sky-high popularity, he would undermine his vital role as our nation's commander and spiritual leader in the gravest crisis since missiles were found in Cuba in 1962. America needs a president and cannot afford to have a partisan in the White House.

Republicans just need to get used to the fact that Bush is not available to lead them in this infighting. He hasn't died, but the same can be said of him as was said of Lincoln as he succumbed to an assassin's bullet "now he belongs to the ages."

The political reality is that Bush will continue to command the nearly unanimous support of the American people for his chosen course in dealing with terrorism. So deep is their respect for his leadership that most Americans would follow him even into a position with which they disagreed bowing to his superior knowledge and trusting his good faith.

But he will be impotent when it comes to shaping the outcome of the 2002 election. He is above that.

Bush has no coattails. Americans will no more listen to his partisan preaching than they did to FDR when they voted, in the first year of World War II for enough Republicans for Congress to give the GOP a forty seat gain. They will discount his partisan comments, should he utter them, as beneath him and write them off a obligatory boiler plate. They will continue to back his presidency even as the vote Democratic in the election for Governor and Congress.

Americans have elevated Bush to a pedestal and they will not let him come down to mess in the partisan muck. We need too much - emotionally - to have a president we can all support to accept one who appeals only to the Republicans among us. The effect of presidential partisanship would be too debilitating for us to witness at a time when we need unity. We can overlook the partisan squabbling of Congressional leaders, but not that of our president, our leader.

All of this makes it even more imperative that the Republicans fold their hand in economic stimulus negotiations with the Democrats and agree to whatever they can get to avoid a recession and get the economy moving again. Republicans will sink or swim based on the record of the economy. In a recession, there will be no presidential pull to bring them out of a slide.

In a way, Americans are unwilling to see the Bush presidency in the round any more. No longer is he the president in charge of the patients' bill of rights or of Social Security reform or of a drug benefit for Social Security. Those issues are reserved, in their view, for the lesser men who surround him on both sides of the partisan aisle. Bush is in charge of saving our nation. As such, the Congressional Republicans cannot look to him for backing or support. He is above that. And they are on their own.

JWR contributor Dick Morris is the author of, among others, The New Prince. Comment by clicking here.


12/05/01: Both parties are phony on stimulus debate
11/29/01: When terrorists can enter legally, it's time to change the laws
11/21/01: Go for the jugular!
11/16/01: You are all incumbents
11/14/01: Clinton's failure to mobilize America to confront foreign terror after the 1993 attack led directly to 9-11 disaster
11/12/01: To the generals: Don't worry about losing support
11/08/01: The death of the white liberal
11/07/01: Our leaders are being transformed in a way unprecedented in post-World War II history

© 2001, Dick Morris