Bush Is Hardly on the Ropes

Article excerpt

HAS it been a good year for George Bush? Up close he appears to be in a peck of trouble. But move up to the top of the stadium and look down at the playing field. From there, with a little perspective, it's a different story.

It's clear that what was perceived by most Americans as a successful war in Iraq - and, particularly, the way President Bush managed it and skillfully brought the United Nations behind it, as well as Congress - was enough in itself to give Bush a big year.

Oh, yes, I've seen those polls that show Bush in a steep decline in public favor. There's even one poll which indicates that the Democrats could unseat the president with almost anyone. That's an amusing thought. It's also ridiculous.

There is, indeed, widespread unhappiness out there among the voters. This recession, as it hangs on and on, is stirring much resentment, even anger, against the powers in Washington - against Congress as well as the president.

But these polls feed on the quick, less-than-thoughtful response of a lot of people who are venting their ire but not really saying how they would cast a vote. Give them the choice of Bush, with his record of triumphs abroad - including his deft dealings with Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin during the meltdown of the Soviet Union, and his persistent efforts to achieve a lasting peace in the Middle East - and the Democratic nominee after his failings have surfaced during the presidential campaign, and Bush would probably have the edge.

The best evidence of Bush's continuing appearance of invulnerability in '92 comes from the Democrats themselves. Their list of relatively no-name candidates, most of whom have straggled into the race haltingly and rather late, tells us of the reluctance of the opposition to take on the formidable president. Because of the recession, Democrats are saying Bush could be brought down. But they aren't saying it with much conviction.

Actually, the president's standing in the polls really isn't all that bad for a chief executive who has been in the saddle for almost three years and who, for the last month or two, has had a pretty rough ride. …