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Bush IQ Greater Than Perceived

By Jason Vines

When President George W. Bush rode into Washington, D.C., in January, few people expected much from him. The left, with the help of a cooperative media, successfully ingrained into Americans' minds a perception of Bush as a rather stupid blunderhead who would botch domestic policies and bungle foreign affairs. Despite Bush's degree from Yale and MBA from Harvard, he supposedly lacked the intellectual capacity to handle rationally and competently such a complicated task as the American presidency.

In the three months since Bush assumed office, the President has done much to contradict the notion that he somehow lacks the mental ability to be Commander-in-Chief. Bush's performance during the recent confrontation with China proves the President is not the thickheaded dolt many people believe him to be. Within 11 days the new Chief Executive, by employing a diplomatic approach that was at the same time both firm and congenial, convinced the Chinese to release all 24 EP-3 crew members unharmed. The Chinese still hold the spy plane, but its crew arrived safely back on American soil in time to celebrate Easter.

On the other hand, America's last experience dealing with an Asian nation that had taken American soldiers prisoner was quite harrowing. In 1968, North Korea attacked the American espionage vessel Pueblo, which was operating in international waters at the time, and captured the ship's crew. The North Koreans tortured that crew for over a year while the United States sought the crew's release. Tensions with North Korea escalated so much that at one point, President Lyndon Baines Johnson considered asking Congress to declare war on the North Koreans if they did not return the crew. Military conflict did not result, but in order to persuade the North Koreans to release the American crew, American diplomats had to issue a fake apology on the part of the United States for the Pueblo's activities.

When contrasting the recent Asian crisis with the crisis of 1968, the remarkable nature of President Bush's accomplishment becomes apparent. Bush secured the timely release of the EP-3 crew without making impetuous threats or issuing humiliating apologies. The President's excellent performance in resolving this crisis undercuts any argument that Bush is a boob who is ignorant of international affairs. (One can now make the assumption that assaulting someone with a surprise trivia quiz is not an accurate gauge of a person's intelligence and ability.)

President George W. Bush has achieved similar success on the domestic front. The House of Representatives approved a budget resolution supporting Bush's $1.6 trillion tax cut plan, and the Senate agreed in principle to a $1.3 trillion tax cut. None of those figures are final, but in all likelihood, Congress will definitely pass a tax cut of over $1 trillion. Both Republicans and Democrats seem to agree with the Reaganesque principle that tax cuts boost consumer spending and thusly improve the economy.

Given the conditions surrounding his ascension to the presidency, Bush should have had a very difficult time persuading Congress—especially that part of Congress composed of the opposing party—to go along with any portion of his legislative agenda. If Bush were less capable and intelligent a politician, the Democrats surely would have pounced on the opportunity to stymie Bush's plans. But Bush has dedicated himself to fulfilling his campaign pledge to bring bipartisan cooperation to Washington. The President has not allowed Democratic attacks to provoke him into lashing out at the left. The public likes Bush's friendly approach to politics, and the Democrats can't put up much of a fight without looking like cantankerous obstructionists impeding the legislative process (which is similar to how the public perceived Republicans during the 90's).

Has President Bush merely been the benefactor of "fool's luck" thus far? Will Bush's administration tumble like a disturbed house of cards after some future world crisis or political confrontation, as the Democrats proclaim it will? The answer to both questions is, not bloody likely. Bush exceeded all expectations when he defeated the popular government of Texas back in 1994; he exceeded all expectations when he competently presided over the state of Texas during his term; and he exceeded all expectations following his assumption of the presidency. Bush has shown that one would not be wise to underestimate him.