The Next Episode for Dubya

For the past four years, I have been a rather harsh critic of President Bush, to put it mildly. Even in 2000, when I was only in the seventh grade, his very presence in the White House infuriated me. I felt as if no matter what his administration did, it was the wrong thing to do. Opponents of the President around the nation shared my feelings; we all refused to concede that President Bush could do anything properly, let alone something good for the nation. As illogical as these sentiments were, they felt justified for the first four years of George W. Bush’s time in office. After all, in the eyes of many, he should not have even been elected. Even though the final tally in Florida showed President Bush to be the victor, we still weren’t satisfied. Signs of all kinds of “voting sketchiness” abounded in the Sunshine State. Additionally, many Americans were not entirely comfortable with the notion that although Al Gore had received more votes than President Bush, Bush was sitting in the Oval Office. The whole thing just felt so wrong. The bitter aftertaste of the 2000 election remained with us for the entirety of the President’s first term; the fallout from Florida was one reason why the 2004 campaign was itself so bitter. I disagree with the President on a great many issues, but this past election significantly changed the way I feel about him and his administration. Until two Tuesdays past, even the brighter moments of the George W. Bush’s presidency had been hidden from my view, blocked out by a dark cloud of perceived illegitimacy. The President’s reelection by a popular majority has lifted that cloud, and left me feeling hopeful, if not entirely optimistic about the next four years. Now is the time for opponents of the President to give him a second chance. Some of his administration’s more radical political figures, like John Ashcroft, will not hold onto their positions come this January. We now have a President in the White House who can step out from under the shadow of his first tainted victory. Second-term presidents have always worked to build a legacy of which they can be proud. George W. Bush must recognize that four more years of war and policy failings will not be looked upon by history in a positive light. Afraid of having a negative portrait in our grandchildren’s history texts, the new President Bush will be more inclined to compromise with Democrats, and less inclined to pander to his Christian right base. After all, they’ve already reelected him. Following his reelection, President Bush told the nation that this campaign had afforded him political capital, capital that he intended to use. President Bush’s newfound legitimacy and mandate from the American people mean that he has no excuse if he cannot make good on the promises of his campaign. Over the next four years, the President should be moving towards a peaceful democracy in Iraq and propose a budget that will halve the deficit in five years (without resorting to tax increases). These two successes alone would address the two largest problems facing our nation today. With a little bit of cooperation from the Democrats in Congress, President Bush has the capacity to accomplish these goals. Whether he does or does not will determine whether history will look upon his presidency as a blessing or simply as a mistake.