Today’s LA Times practices a bit of balanced editorializing regarding prospects for President Bush and the GOP:
Like the Chicago Cubs, though, the Democrats may have peaked too soon. Bush’s poll numbers have stabilized. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s victory in the California gubernatorial recall election has sent a thrill through the Republican Party. In Iraq, the violence continues, but the lights are now on, kids are returning to school, Turkey has agreed to send troops to the most dangerous part of the country (Sunni Iraq) — and the Bush administration won unanimous support from the U.N. Security Council for its plan for Iraq.
That’s not to say that Bush & Co. can expect easy sailing, either, at home or abroad:
The French, Germans and Russians still steam over the U.S.-led invasion. They remain worried that a new Iraqi government, with U.S. backing, may try to repudiate some of the debt Hussein contracted in cozy deals made with French, Russian and German companies. They want the U.S. to pay the highest possible price — in money and even in blood — for the invasion to lessen the chance that the Bush administration or its successors will ever act without their approval.
Walter Russell Mead gets a high-five in the lead editorial in today’s Washington Post:
In particular the Pentagon refused to countenance any weakening of the U.S. monopoly of authority over the occupation administration or the management of reconstruction, which is proving lucrative for well-connected American contractors. Though France and others made unrealistic and unhelpful proposals, the administration trapped itself by failing to seriously consider how it might give the United Nations and other governments a more meaningful role in Iraq’s transition. In the end, rather than make possible new contributions of troops and funds, the administration obtained a formal Security Council ratification of the very policies that have caused countries such as India and Pakistan to turn down U.S. appeals for assistance.
The Post continues its scolding of Democrats who have fought against the continuing appropriation for Iraqi security and reconstruction:
The administration’s failure to mobilize broader international support is now being used by Democrats in Congress as an excuse to oppose the Iraqi aid appropriation. The illogicality of this is as shameful as it is obvious: Were the Democrats to succeed, a project that already is underfunded would be starved of resources altogether, thus ensuring its failure — and condemning American troops to a longer and more dangerous stay than they face now.
Still, Mead remains upbeat about Bush’s chances in the next election cycle, as he foresees the economic rebound and the creation of new jobs well under way by next summer. He figures that the timing of the economy will coincide with major troop withdrawals from Iraq, eliminating talk of quagmires and negating debate on questions of casus belli:
There is better news yet for the Bush team. The early stages of a rebounding economy are notoriously “jobless.” That is, gross domestic product rises, the stock market goes up, but unemployment refuses to budge. The main reason is that business is cautious; it doesn’t want to make new investments or restart hiring until it is sure the recovery is more than a mirage. It’s beginning to look that way now.
If all this is true, and next spring finds Bush announcing troop withdrawal schedules in Iraq while unemployment falls at home, the GOP, not Democrats, will be looking forward to November.