Bush Finds Bright Side to Lame Duck Status
ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
News analyst Daniel Schorr says President Bush's position on Iraq and some other issues reflects his status as a lame duck president.
DANIEL SCHORR: As his term winds down in disarray, President Bush enjoys what could be called the lame duck advantage - that is, he doesn't have to worry about votes. He devotes little attention after the Virginia Tech massacre to issues like campus safety and gun control except to reiterate support for gun ownership. He leaves it to the Democrats to take on the gun problems that usually divide Congress. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says: I hope there's not a rush to do anything. We need to take a deep breath.
Earlier in his administration, Mr. Bush might have by now accepted the resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales who's a liability for the administration. But for now, he plays the loyalty card.
For Democrats, the most ticklish situation has become the $100 billion plus emergency spending bill for Iraq and Afghanistan. With growing sentiment for ending military involvement, the Democrats are looking for some compromise with the White House - timetable, benchmarks or the latest advisory opinion. The White House, less concerned about losing votes in the next election, is sticking to its guns, almost literally. The president has set a June deadline, postponed from a May deadline, for passage of an unamended bill or face a veto. And since he's less concerned about voters, the president apparently feels he can afford a veto likely not to be overridden.
Anyone who thinks that Iraq and Virginia Tech will bring great changes in our government is likely to be disappointed. Liberated from electoral pressures, other presidents might have used the opportunity to take action on issues that really matter to them. In George Bush's case, being a lame duck president allows him to let others take action.
This is Daniel Schorr.