August 3, 2002

WIN FITZPATRICK feels that President Bush isn’t taking the war seriously enough.

This is perhaps unfair: I can do a lot of my work from almost anywhere now (and though I’ve never done it, I know people who have taught their classes via an internet video hookup), and I don’t have access to the communications network that serves a President. Demanding that Bush be at his desk in the Oval Office seems to me to be either out of date, or (in the case of some critics) disingenuous point-scoring. I seem to recall that Roosevelt managed to visit Warm Springs during World War Two, after all.

Of course, the presence of visible progress elsewhere might cause Fitzpatrick to feel more favorably toward Bush’s vacation. It’s possible that we’re making lots of progress that’s not visible at the moment — in fact, I can think of a couple of examples best left unmentioned here — but that’s not much help for Bush’s political position, which I see as somewhat fragile once you get beneath the surface. His approval is still high, and the financial scandals haven’t really had much effect. But the rapid victory in Afghanistan, though impressive, was only the opening round and there hasn’t been a lot of visible follow through. If there’s not much progress soon, Bush may lose the benefit of the doubt. I think the obvious and widely-appreciated absurdities of Homeland Security are already starting to bite; he’ll be in real trouble if the whole war effort starts to be viewed through that lens.

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