Alex Massie

The Days of a Do Nothing Presidency, Alas, Are Gone

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Gail Collins, short of an idea for a column this week, clutters-up the NYT op-ed page with the fanciful suggestion that George W Bush stand down now and let the cool new guy takeover. Well, fine. Whatever dreams tickle your fancy. Collins also drops this in, however:

“Doing nothing is almost the worst thing a president can do,” said the historian Michael Beschloss.

This is almost the worst advice you could give a President. Doing stuff is often the problem. One of the better things about Candidate Bush in 2000 was his apparently modest agenda. Of course, it didn't work out that way. But with the exception, one might argue, of the federal response to Hurricane Katrina, the Bush administration's sins have been ones of commission not omission.  Of course, Bush's particular brand of hapless government activism opened the door, not unreasonably, to a revivified activist liberalism to repair the damage Bush hath wrought.

Granted, the times - terrorism on the one hand and economic woe on the other - make the populace susceptible to promises of grand, decisive action. In politics, as in so much else, modesty is out of fashion. Ah well...

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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