Bush expresses resolve and a deep conviction about [TBA]
"Four more years!" is the traditional chant on the incumbent's campaign trail, but as Dan Balz reports in today's Washington Post, this also seems to be the only substantive item in President Bush's contentless campaign for a second term:
… with the election less than four months away, one of the biggest mysteries surrounding the president's campaign is what he would actually do if he wins a second term.
Bush's failure to detail a second-term agenda — beyond his pledge to keep waging an aggressive war on terrorism — represents a stark contrast to his previous campaigns, in which he set out a handful of priorities almost from the opening day and rarely deviated from them.
Throughout the year, Bush has focused on Iraq and terrorism and on drawing attention to improved economic statistics, but has barely begun to make the case about second-term priorities. Whether there is room for a bold domestic agenda, given the fiscal strains his first term has created, and whether Bush has fresh ideas on issues such as health care, education and the economy are questions yet to be answered.
Balz talks to several unnamed "presidential advisers" who insist that Bush does have an agenda for a second term and that all will be revealed — someday, perhaps at the convention, or maybe in October, but most likely some time before the actual election in November.
If a candidate has a clear vision and a clear agenda, and if that candidate has a plan for the policies to make that vision and that agenda a reality, then the candidate will want to spend as much time as possible talking to the American people. That's how one builds support for one's agenda. That's how one creates a mandate for leadership in a democracy.
Balz's report seems to suggest that the White House is hoping to announce it's "agenda" as close to the election as possible in order to prevent the public, the press and his political opponents from having adequate time to evaluate these proposals.
When George W. Bush appeared on Meet the Press back in February, Tim Russert asked him to explain why he thought he deserved a second term. The president dodged the question, saying only that he "looked forward" to having the opportunity in the months ahead to talk to the American people about his plans for a second term. This was a bit odd — here he was speaking directly to the American people on network television, but all he told them was that he looked forward to having the chance to tell them something later. Since then spring has come and gone and it is now high summer and still we hear little more than chants of "four more years" and the continued assurance that President Bush looks forward, someday, sometime in the future, to explaining his vision.
This is not how someone behaves if he actually has a vision for the future. Bush doesn't. He's still just stalling for time while his advisers and aides work to cobble together something that could pass for an agenda for a second term, provided no one looks too closely.
"The bad news is we're lost and we don't know where we're going," the captain says. "The good news is we're making excellent time."