Bob Novak sees some troubling signs for President Bush, most notably unease among Senators who should be his most staunch supporters. They’re irritated that the Administration, especially SECDEF Rumsfeld, has treated them with disdain and kept them largely out of the loop; angry that they’re losing the judicial confirmation wars with the Democrats; and worried about the economy, especially the stale job market.
Nobody is suggesting that Bush is duplicating his father’s nonchalance after the Gulf War in sliding to defeat against Bill Clinton. Nor do they have specific policy advice beyond playing straight with Congress on how much the war against terrorism will cost.
Bush political adviser Karl Rove always has predicted a close presidential election for 2004, just as he did for 2000. Republican senators now realize Rove was not kidding, and they no longer laugh at Howard Dean challenging Bush for the presidency. Pollster John Zogby calls this a 50-50 country and Bush a 50-50 presidency.
Given those odds, arrogance and deception are too great a burden at either the White House or Pentagon.