The president deserves some patience

By Paul M. Weyrich
web posted April 9, 2001

Not known for the virtue of patience, I have been in the business of urging patience on my fellow conservatives in their dealings with the Bush Administration. It seems that everyone has his own agenda and if the president or their favorite cabinet officer hasn't yet acted on that agenda, then they are at best falling short, or at worst betraying the nation.

George W. BushGive me-or rather give them-a break. The Bush people have been in office a little more than two months. They were deprived of five weeks of valuable transition time because of the Florida fiasco. The president has set forth a multi-pronged agenda and understands that because of the way he came into office he has to win some victories early on or his presidency will be doomed. So he is concentrating on a limited number of areas and spending a lot of time on those themes. Plus the president is forced to deal with a certain number of crises not of his own making. These take time away from his schedule and detract from his agenda.

While every one of the items being advanced by my conservative brethren are worthy and should be acted upon in due course, they have to be looked at from the presidential perspective which may be very different than the perspective of that particular leader or organization. So time and time again when these conservatives have been ready to pounce, I have suggested caution. There is plenty of time six months from now, nine months from now, a year from now if worthy issues my brethren are raising are not addressed by this administration, then let her rip. But in the meanwhile, this president and his people are doing so many good things it seems to me they deserve as many "atta boys" as we can muster.

So why, then, was I seen as joining a chorus of criticism about the administration's holdover policy in a recent Washington Post? Say something critical and you get your picture in the paper. Had I defended the administration, my name would probably not have appeared.

Well, I may be wrong but I felt I was trying to be helpful to the administration. First of all what I said is being said in the halls of Congress in mega decibels. Just the day before, Majority Leader Dick Armey, appearing on my television show Direct Line on the Renaissance Network, was far harsher than I was in criticizing the administration's personnel policies. There is great concern that the president is not being adequately served when the right people are not in place.

Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson is a good man. I have known him since the late 1960s. He got into hot water now on several issues. Why? He does not have a Bush appointed general counsel to advise him. No cabinet secretary can be expected to know the right answers on these complex questions without the right legal advice. And thanks to the holdover policy we have a 29-year-old Clintonite running the Social Security Administration and making policy. That does not serve President Bush.

I could cite dozens of examples like this one. That is why I suggested that something needed to be done. A bit of impatience on that score, I believe, is justified. This is about advancing their agenda, not mine.

But on the whole, I believe we have to be patient with this president and his excellent crew. They are doing the best they can. And if they haven't acted yet on the priority you think they should have, give them time. Chances are, since these are good people, if what you are advocating is for the good of the nation, they will get around to it. At least that is how I feel about the dozens of things I want to see done which aren't being acted on yet. I want to get those good people in place and give them time to do the right thing.

Paul Weyrich is president of the Free Congress Foundation.

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