Last month I wrote my USA Today column on how Bush could get his poll numbers up. I wrote:
At home, Bush’s options are far more constrained. But again, Clinton might be the model. The Democratic Congress is — astonishingly — even more unpopular than President Bush. If Bush can pick some well-chosen fights with Congress, ideally over spending, he might at least bring back disheartened members of his own political base. Bush might also borrow from Clinton’s post-1994 playbook of proposing a lot of small, very popular (and mostly insipid) programs and initiatives. Clinton had his school uniforms and V-chips. Surely the authors of compassionate conservatism could conjure similar treacle.
Well, Bush’s attempt to crack down on airline delays seems like it might be a start to precisely this sort of strategy. In t he 1990s, the Clinton White House was amazed at how popular the food safety issue was for them. Perhaps attacking the hellishness of air travel will be another winner.
Meanwhile, note that Bush is veering leftward, toward the middle, on global warming. From the A.P.:
WASHINGTON (AP) – Myth: The president refuses to admit that climate change is real and that humans are a factor. Myth: The U.S. is doing nothing to address climate change. Myth: The United States refuses to engage internationally.
So begins a hand-sized handout, easy for reporters to pocket, issued at the State Department where President Bush on Friday was to cap two days of talks at a White House-sponsored climate change conference that is as much about salesmanship as it is about diplomacy.
Unwilling to cut U.S. emissions of greenhouse gases, which make up a fourth of the world’s total output, Bush is turning to China, India and the other biggest polluters to swap green technology and other voluntary ways of doing something about global warming.