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George W. Bush, Comeback Kid?
Some suggestions for how to do it


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EDITOR’S NOTE: This piece appears in the November 21, 2005, issue of National Review.

This is a moment of opportunity for President Bush. With conservatives rallying to the president’s superb choice of Samuel Alito for the Supreme Court–and with the worst of the CIA-leak investigation behind him–the way is open for the president to regain the initiative after a frustrating summer and fall.
Presidents can remain powerful and important to the very end of their term.

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In his final three years in office, Ronald Reagan a) forced through a major tax reform cutting the top tax rate to 28 percent, b) faced down Mikhail Gorbachev in a dramatic series of summit meetings, c) oversaw a bounceback from the worst one-day plunge in stock prices in history, and d) signed into law the first new entitlement program since 1974 (a health-care plan that was happily repealed in 1989 before it went into effect).

President Clinton was no Ronald Reagan: Much of his final term was wasted in scandals of his own making. Yet he too presided over an otherwise positive final three years, including the Kosovo war, the expansion of NATO into Eastern Europe, and the successful navigation of the 1997-98 global financial crisis.

We can be sure that dramatic events await President Bush as well. And while the faults of this president and the weaknesses in his administration have been unflatteringly highlighted in recent months, in the days ahead Americans will surely also be reminded of his strengths and merits.

But the president does not have to await events. There are things he can do right now to regain the initiative and reassert his mastery…

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