Five Things President Bush Should Do While "Working Pretty Hard" In Crawford
The good news is that President Bush's vacation, begun yesterday, will be the shortest of his presidency.
The bad news is that bad things seem to happen while Bush visits the ranch in Crawford, Texas. Hurricane Katrina struck last year, and the administration's reaction quickly led to a series of embarrassments. In 2001, Bush seemingly failed to react to a presidential daily briefing declaring that Osama Bin Laden was planning a terrorist attack.
The biggest problem is the widespread feeling that, although his administration dubs Crawford the "Western White House," Bush spends too much time playing rancher, and not enough time playing president.
White House Press Secretary Tony Snow, no doubt aware of the criticism, tried to pre-empt it yesterday.
“My guess is he's going to be working pretty hard,” Snow said. “So this is not something where he's simply going to be gallivanting and ignoring the realities of the situation.”
That said, JABBS is offering the Bush Administration a list of things the president may want to do while in Crawford.
-- If Crawford is the "Western White House," treat it that way. Bush doesn't mow the lawn in Washington. How about no more photo-ops of Bush clearing brush?
-- Similarly, if Crawford is the "Western White House," then there's no need to fly to Washington mid-vacation to deal with breaking issues. Last year, Bush flew to Washington for a photo-op -- a speech following Hurricane Katrina. He could have just as easily given the speech in Crawford, and then taken a short flight to New Orleans. It was several days before Bush flew from Washington to the Crescent City.
-- Follow the lead of Vice President Cheney, and head out to a local bookstore to buy Ivan's War: Life and Death in the Red Army, 1939-1945 and a stack of other history books. Maybe Bush can buy a book on the differences between Shia and Sunni Muslims, and how understanding those differences may help prevent an Iraqi Civil War.
-- Anti-war activists, most notably Cindy Sheehan, are trying to negotiate a compromise to allow them to once again protest while Bush is in Crawford. Here's an idea: Since Bush is finding time during his vacation to fly to Wisconsin to support Republican congressional candidate John Gard, maybe he could also find an hour to invite Sheehan into his ranch. At the risk of offering Bush advice that could actually help the Republican Party this November, a photo-op with Sheehan would be meaningful to the families who have lost loved ones in the Iraq War, and who are angry that the most noted reasons for going to war -- possible ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda, the "slam dunk" that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction, the need to be pre-emptive, rather than risk Iraq obtaining nuclear weapons and creating a "mushroom cloud" -- failed to be proven true. No one would expect Bush to cave on his war stance, but for some people, just knowing the president is listening to their concerns is enough.
-- Spend some time trying to look for avenues to reduce tension between the United States and Israel on the one side, and Iran and Syria on the other. As former CIA deputy director John McLaughlin wrote last month: "(E)ven superpowers have to talk to bad guys. The absence of a diplomatic relationship with Iran and the deterioration of the one with Syria -- two countries that bear enormous responsibility for the current crisis -- leave the United States with fewer options and levers than might otherwise have been the case."