‘Most People Want Us to Win’

Wall Street Journal Paul A. Gigot September 9, 2006

A president in the fray, more Truman than LBJ.

ABOARD AIR FORCE ONE — Speaker Nancy Pelosi?

“That’s not going to happen,” snaps the president of the United States, leaning across his desk in his airborne office. He had been saying that he hoped to revisit Social Security reform next year, when he “will be able to drain the politics out of the issue,” and I rudely interrupted by noting the polls predicting Ms. Pelosi’s ascension.

“I just don’t believe it,” the president insists. “I believe the Republicans will end up being–running the House and the Senate. And the reason why I believe it is because when our candidates go out and talk about the strength of this economy, people will say their tax cuts worked, their plan worked. . . . And secondly, that this is a group of people that understand the stakes of the world in which we live and are willing to help this unity government in Iraq succeed for the sake of our children and grandchildren, and that we are steadfast in our belief in the capacity of liberty to bring peace.”

Love or loathe President George W. Bush, you can’t say he lacks the courage of his convictions. Down in the polls, with the American people in a sour mood over Iraq, Mr. Bush isn’t changing his policy or hunkering down in the Oval Office. Instead he’s doubling down, investing whatever scarce political capital he has to frame the November contest as a choice over the economy and taxes and especially over his prosecution of the war on terror.

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