Bush May Be President, But For Growing Majority, He's No Longer Our "Leader"
Although the words are often used interchangeably, "president" and "leader" have much different meanings.
And currently, our President is not our leader -- at least not for the majority of Americans.
President is a job title. By definition, a president is not necessarily a leader, but rather the highest-ranking official. "Appointed or elected to preside over an organized body." Bush certainly qualifies to be called president.
But to lead, by definition one has to take a lead position, and "guide" or "influence" others. And for a majority of Americans, this is no longer the case. Over the past year in particular, President Bush hasn't been out in front of the issues -- he's been behind the curve -- and the midterm elections, and poll after poll suggest that Americans' opinions on a wide range of issues are not guided or influenced by Bush.
-- A majority of Americans (86 percent) say it is important to capture or kill Osama Bin Laden. The Bush Administration has repeatedly said that this is not a priority.
-- A majority of Americans (68 percent) are calling the situation in Iraq a "civil war." Bush refuses to do so.
-- A majority of Americans (69 percent) want to see troops withdrawn immediately, or a timetable to be established for such a withdrawal. Bush refuses to consider either option.
-- A majority of Americans (83 percent) support hiking the minimum wage. The Bush Administration backed a Congressional Republican to increase the minimum wage only if it could be tied to a repeal of the estate tax. The measure was defeated. (Note: One poll found that only 29 percent of Americans support repealing the estate tax.)
-- A majority of Americans (68 percent) support federal funding of embryonic stem cell research. Bush vetoed a bill on the matter in July, in spite of bipartisan support.
-- A majority of Americans (60 percent) disapprove of Bush's proposal to privatize Social Security. Bush said in June: "If we can't get it done this year, I'm going to try next year. And if we can't get it done next year, I'm going to try the year after that."
Of course, that was before Democrats regained control of both houses of Congress.
The Democrats would do well to start framing these key issues as "mainstream" -- or put another way, they should not allow conservatives to mischaracterize these issues as "liberal." This is the time for Democrats to be "leaders," not be on the defensive, worried about Karl Rove's latest catch-phrase.
With majorities in both houses of Congress, the Democrats can quickly pass a minimum wage hike, federal funding for stem cell research, a timetable for phased redeployment of troops from Iraq, etc. How amazing would it be to have a "do something" Congress?
Dare Bush to veto bills that have bipartisan support in Congress, and the broad support of the American people. He'll either show how out of step he is with the American people -- certifying how he is not a "leader" -- or he'll buckle.
It's a win-win, for the Democratic Party, and for the American people.