It seemed impossible after the U.S. Congress passed the Twenty-second Amendment to the Constitution back in 1947… Never again was a president supposed to be able to serve more than two terms in office. Yet, miraculously, George W. Bush is just about to wrap up term number three.
How did he manage this feat? It’s hard to say, really. But somehow, from his home in Texas over the past four years, he’s managed to keep the Guantanamo Bay detention camp open, keep the Patriot Act alive, keep the Bush tax cuts in place, and have his anti-terror intelligence-gathering policies lead to the killing of Osama Bin Laden. The fact that the guy currently sitting in the Oval Office has been an outspoken opponent of all of these initiatives makes Bush’s continued authority all the more impressive.
Above all though, it’s Bush’s knack for keeping the economy in a perpetual state of ruin over the past four years that I find the most awe-inspiring. That takes some real talent! At least Barack Obama, and most of the American people (if the polls are right), actually give Bush his due credit when it comes to the economy.
Yes, three terms is a real achievement. From what I’ve gathered, the method for accomplishing such a conquest is to leave your successor with a really bad situation for him to have to deal with. I’m talking about a real challenge, perhaps even with global implications. That way, it’s apparently reasonable for the successor not to be held accountable for anything that happens in the country and around the world, at least during his own first term.
This should dispel, once and for all, the myth that Bush is stupid. He’s clearly brilliant!
There’s one thing that I’m confused about, however. If that’s the criteria for maintaining accountability beyond the end of one’s official term(s), how is it that Bill Clinton wasn’t a three-term president? It seems to me that he should have been a shoe-in after leaving Bush with a thriving al-Qaeda network that was emboldened by Clinton’s refusal to answer the group’s attacks against our country and bases. Bush was left with a powerful Osama Bin Laden who Clinton failed to accept as a peace-offering from the Sudanese government. Bush inherited a 9/11 plot that was already well underway when he took office. Such neglect should have surely given Clinton some extra time as the leader of the free world, but it didn’t.
After pondering this for a bit, I think I’ve figured out the answer. You see, Bush did something that we haven’t seen much of lately. He took ownership of his presidency. After the 9/11 attacks, Bush foiled any chance Clinton had of extending his time at the helm by wisely deciding not to cast blame or whine about the rough hand he was dealt. Bush took consequential measures to deal with the problem and let the electorate judge his performance.
It was just crazy enough to work!
Sure, there were risks that came with the strategy. It let the American public hold him accountable for how he reacted to a crisis, rather than by how well they think he could have performed during less complicated times. Yet, it paid off. Twelve years and counting!
Now, onto the all important question… Can Bush complete a historical fourth term in office?
Personally, I think he can. All he has to do is continue screwing up the economy for the next four years. You know, he could explode the national debt up over $20 trillion, keep the unemployment rate high, and maybe even start a second recession. That way, he’ll achieve two historical victories: First of all, he will deny Barack Obama from ever becoming the real, accountable President of the United States, despite being elected twice. Secondly, he’ll become the longest sitting president in United States history.
I think he’s got a really good shot at it, especially since Barack Obama apparently hasn’t realized that all he has to do is take ownership of his own presidency in order to start taking credit for the state of the country. The Bush era would be brought to a close overnight. Thankfully for Bush, Obama hasn’t figured that out.
Or has he?