By Graeme MacKay, Editorial Cartoonist, The Hamilton Spectator – Saturday December 16, 2000
A new president who will need lots of help; What’s in the papers
It may be too much to expect that George W. Bush can be the “uniter” he’s promised to be. The Republican’s best hope may lie in showing that he’s “not a divider.”
For now, he’s entitled to good wishes and open minds. After all, he’s the only president-elect the American people have, and it’s a tough job on its best day.
He’s certainly talking the talk. “I was not elected to serve one party but to serve one nation,” Bush told an enthusiastic Texas statehouse crowd Wednesday.
But Washington may not prove so welcoming. Even a modest goal of less divisiveness presents Bush with the challenge of several lifetimes. Most presidents get at least a short honeymoon to test their skills at making connections; Bush may not. There are a lot of hard feelings out there. Even before the latest court rulings, the politics of character assassination was ratcheting up at every turn. The rabid see no purpose in restraint. And the nation’s minority voters feel seriously wronged by this election. They will keep saying so.
Bush , moreover, has left himself vulnerable to attack. His postelection demeanour and isolation did not show him as a man in charge, a man skilled in diplomacy, or even a man eager for great responsibilities.
His deer-in-the-headlights moments do not auger well for foreign policy leadership, in particular.
During the debates, he managed to mouth the words supplied by Condoleezza Rice. But if he continues without his own vision, and keeps appearing just an expression or two short of terror, he will surely get a major test from one of America’s enemies.
Domestically, the country can muddle along, doing little more than paying down the national debt, for one presidential term if necessary. Any accomplishments will be a bonus.
If Bush can’t rein in his party’s right-wing extremists, he can expect to be vilified, to lose the hairbreadth GOP margin in Congress in ’02, and to earn the disdain of the American people, not to mention the ever-harsher cruelties of Saturday Night Live.
His legitimacy is slender indeed, hanging by the narrowest of Supreme Court majorities. As a payback for the cries of “illegitimate” that greeted President Clinton after his non-majority victories, there’s a rough justice to the fragile Bush hold on the presidency. But hold it he does.
Other presidents have overcome unnerving beginnings. George W. Bush deserves room to try to work for “common sense, common courtesy, common goals.” Americans need to give him that room, and their prayers. (Source: Detroit Free Press)