Give the guy a break, ok?

By Paul M. Weyrich
web posted December 18, 2000

I have a couple of friends who have worked for President-Elect Bush in the campaign headquarters in Austin for the some time now. Neither knew Mr. Bush before they went to work there. Both told me the same story. They were pleasantly surprised at how instinctively conservative he is on most issues and how loath he is to consult the polls before taking action. One of these staffers told me "Over and over Bush would ask the question: 'What is the right thing to do?'" And then when given the answer he would say,"Then do it." Another staffer told me about the time that a policy person, seeking to get the Governor to back his position, said "we've vetted this with focus groups and they like the idea ". The Governor bristled and told him that was no reason to support the idea. Rather the question was whether it was the right thing to do or not and he suggested that the idea didn't meet that test despite its alleged popularity.

Let us hope that President-elect Bush does not lose that sentiment as he crosses the Potomac. If he keeps that focus...is it the right thing to do...then he will save the nation much grief. Meanwhile, those of us on the right have a certain responsibility at this moment. We have to lower our expectations. We have to give this President a chance to get settled. We have to realize that President Bush is in a position like no other President has been in more than a Century. We have to cut him some slack.

Don't get me wrong. We cannot stand by and say nothing if the President compromises our basic interests. But I don't expect that President-elect Bush will do that. I trust him. But we cannot sit here in judgement of his every move waiting to pounce on him. We can't rerun the campaign. We can't rewrite the platform. George W. Bush will be sitting in the oval office. Either he will take our key issues seriously or he won't. If we attack him on the basis of each rumor which surfaces or every appointment he makes or we don't approve of each legislative deal he makes not to our liking we will be in a constant state of war with the new Administration. We will get nothing for it except a black eye with the people who run the Bush team.

There is some chance, if we can all work together, that we might be able to accomplish a few major things such as Social Security reform or medical savings accounts other sorts of institutional changes that will benefit the nation in the long run. That will be worth it.

When Bush addressed the nation for the first time as President elect, he was shrewd to have chosen the Speaker of the Texas House, a Democrat, to introduce him. He wanted to signal that he was willing to reach across party lines to achieve certain objectives. This can be done without compromising principles. But it cannot be done if there is constant distrust and rancor. Bush has asked for prayers for the nation and its leaders. He says compassionate conservatism will be the basis of his Administration. Let us honor the President-Elect's request. Let us pray for him and the nation. And in the course of doing so we will honor and help ourselves.

Paul Weyrich is president of the Free Congress Foundation.

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