Monday, May 22, 2006

Dick Morris’ Idiotic Advice to President Bush: Become Bill Clinton

Dick Morris has suggested a full proof plan for rescuing the Bush presidency and destroying it at the same time—an all out assault on America’s biggest problem—high gas prices.

We know this is America’s biggest problem because asked to describe in their own words what issues they hear people talking, about 29% of the American public mention high gas prices.

Iraq? Forget Iraq. Only 13% of the sample mention it. Morris concludes that this means that “It has faded as a public issue.” He seems not to have considered that Iraq is a difficult, but ever-present piece of knowledge whose existence you must reluctantly resign yourself to, but on which you would prefer not to dwell.

Immigration? No, that’s not an issue in spite of the mass marches and the conservative abandonment of the president over his handling of this issue. After all, only 9% reported hearing about immigration around the water cooler or discussing it at the kitchen table.

Having confused the American penchant for complaining about things that adversely affect them immediately and economically, with the things that really worry them, Mr. Morris is now ready to suggest his master plan—a national crusade against gasoline. In Mr. Morris’s words Mr. Bush , “should declare the equivalent of the bomb-building Manhattan Project and embark on a crash course to switch us from gasoline to alcohol- and hydrogen-based fuels.”

Mr. Morris hopes for quick results, since “But Bush must get on top of the issue - particularly if there is a chance to show progress before November, 2006, he must stake out his program so he can crow about how well it worked.” It’s possible that the announcement of a “Manhattan project” to switch from gasoline to alcohol- and hydrogen-based fuels might not be seen for what it is, a cynical move to divert attention from the issues on which Americans have legitimate and important questions—like Iraq and immigration.

I use the word cynical because even Mr. Morris admits, “There is a very good chance that the market will come back to reality and that prices will settle down again, regardless of long-term changes in demand or supply.”

A move toward economically viable alternative fuels is an important policy to pursue. However, it is a policy that must be pursued carefully. Oil, and the many industries that depend on it are critical parts of the American economy and not to be tickered with carelessly. And that is exactly what Mr. Morris’ proposal is—a slapdash effort to a gain short- term public bump in approval regardless of the political or economic costs. Were his advice to be taken, Mr. Morris would have accomplished the molst amazing transformation of a president ever seen--from a George W. Bush to a Bill Clinton.

Mr. Bush’s psychological persona—his competence, empathy, and even his integrity have been damaged by the relentless attacks of his partisan enemies. They have been aided by the president’s own mistakes and those of his administration. Mr. Bush would be foolish indeed to compound his troubles by allowing the charge of desparate political expedience to be added to the list.