What Bush didn't realize is that in a war-time climate, America is willing to swallow substantially more. Now that Iraq is not on the front page every day, people are turning back to scrutinize more mundane issues such as social security. Mindful of this trend, Bush is putting similar focus on domestic issues.
The only problem is that he's applying the same hard-line tactics he used in ramming home his military and defense agenda. Bush just doesn't have as big a stick on this. He can't say that the world will crumble if this doesn't happen, although he has tried and will try in the future.
One of the principle defining traits of this administration has been an unwillingness to retreat or admit defeat. This attitude was just the ticket after September 11th, when what we needed most was confidence, and it has (from a political standpoint) served him well in the ensuing security reforms at home, and the Iraq and Afghani wars.
This'll be harder to get away with on social security, because no one wants Bush's reform plans to succeed as desperately as they want the 'War on Terror' to succeed.
The problem with these new ideas of Bush's is that they don't connect with the gut the way the old stuff did. Bush is having trouble connecting on a more rational level.
So, what can Bush do to salvage the situation? Well, first there's oil. No doubt getting oil prices down is near the top of Bush's 'things to do' list, because the price of oil varies inversely with Bush's popularity. Even a few cents off would make an impact.
Then Bush needs to strike: get a few senators or representatives to sponsor a bill outlining his ideas and get it debated. Be flexible on the obscure (but important) points. The public doesn't care so much about these details, so changing it won't hurt the image of the over-all plan. For political purposes the thing to do is to get something passed with the word 'privatization' in it. Then Bush and his allies can declare victory, even if the bill has morphed beyond recognition. All Bush will have to do is point to the word 'privatization,' and that will be that.
And I do hope that if something like this is passed, it changes rather dramatically in the offing. The US should not attempt to stomach the tremendous cost of the current proposal.
Cross-posted to Leoniceno’s Corner