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100 days, Part II

President Bush has an extraordinary record of achievement to begin his second term, and he's only getting started

Issue: "Senate wars over judges," May 14, 2005

A president's first 100 days have mattered as a media measure ever since FDR took the helm in the depth of the Great Depression and launched a flurry of initiatives.

This handy cue for scribblers usually isn't so important in a president's second term, since the vote that precedes such an encore inevitably includes a measure of approval for the incumbent's policies.

But on May 2 two reporters from The Washington Post, John Harris and Jim VandeHei, argued that "as the president passed the 100-day mark of his second term over the weekend, the main question facing Bush and his party is whether they misread the November elections."

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Since they played the 100-day card under a headline that blared "Doubts About Mandate for Bush, GOP," a serious look at the start of the second term is in order. So here goes: Since swearing his second presidential oath of office, President Bush has:

• signed into law sweeping class-action lawsuit and bankruptcy reforms;

• seen Congress pass a budget that includes billions of dollars of permanent tax cuts that he campaigned for last fall, and one that will open Alaska to new oil exploration (another campaign pledge);

• shepherded democratic elections in Iraq and the formation of a new government there, and witnessed the impact of those elections spread to Lebanon where the citizenry drove out the hated Syrian occupiers;

• superintended a smart drive to end the filibuster of his appeals court nominees, so that Democrats are now negotiating against themselves to preserve their obstructionist tactic; and

• launched a national debate on Social Security reform that his opponents have responded to with a stubborn refusal to offer any sort of idea, much less an acceptable one.

That's an extraordinary record of achievement for three-plus months, and Mr. Bush is only getting started. True, his poll numbers are low on Social Security, but the message is being sent, and being received, as to Democratic fecklessness on the issue. This is the sort of reputation for obstructionism that retired Tom Daschle and will again prove potent in November 2006.

Quick-what did Bill Clinton achieve in the early months of 1997?

Can't recall a thing? No, it isn't your memory.

By any standard, George W. Bush continues to build a presidency of accomplishment.


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