- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 9, 2001

With the presidential transition period sliced in half due to the electoral imbroglio in Florida, President Bush has repeatedly implored the media and other self-appointed appraisers of the presidency to delay their initial "judgments" until his administration had been in office for six months. That deadline expired just before the president and Congress recently left town for their traditional summer vacations, offering the opportunity to reflect upon Mr. Bush's accomplishments so far.

Having secured a slew of congressional victories in recent days and a major foreign policy agreement in Genoa, Italy, last month with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Mr. Bush triumphantly capped an already extraordinarily productive six months. Indeed, barely a week after The Washington Post published a July 26 front-page "news analysis" article titled "Bush Lacks the Ability To Force Action on Hill," the paper was forced to acknowledge the president's subsequent success in an article titled "On Patients' Rights Deal, Bush Scored With a Full-Court Press." It was a remarkable legislative achievement in the House, which passed a version of the patients' bill of rights endorsed by the president.

Earlier in the week, the president won a major bipartisan victory in the House with his energy legislation. With the support of 36 Democrats, the energy bill passed by a comfortable 240-189 margin. Mr. Bush's well-oiled political operation won the support of the Teamsters and the United Auto Workers, who were instrumental in convincing 86 Democrats to oppose stringent fuel economy standards on light trucks, SUVs and minivans.

As important as these legislative triumphs proved to be, they were, of course, overshadowed by Mr. Bush's earlier bipartisan victory regarding tax relief. What eventually emerged from the House-Senate conference committee was a 10-year (2001-2010) $1.35 trillion tax cut, which, remarkably, exceeded by $50 billion the tax cut Mr. Bush promised to achieve for this period during last year's campaign. Moreover, in a textbook display of timely, effective countercyclical fiscal policy, the Bush administration managed to implement the tax cut just as the economy's annual growth rate has fallen below 1 percent. Confirming the public's overwhelming conviction that Mr. Bush is a more trustworthy official than his predecessor, the checks are literally in the mail at the moment they are most needed.

The education issue has been identified in recent years by the public as the most important challenge confronting the nation. While we have substantial doubts about the effectiveness of the education reforms now being reconciled in a congressional conference committee, the political victory Mr. Bush will likely achieve will be monumental. By a 63-31 margin, according to the latest Washington Post-ABC News Poll, Americans approve of Mr. Bush's handling of education. Indeed, in a political reversal of historic proportions, by a stunning margin of 50-42 the public now trusts Mr. Bush to do a better job than congressional Democrats in handling education.

Mr. Bush has also made substantial progress on his signature foreign and defense policy issue national missile defense. In a surprising, but welcome, development at the Genoa summit, Mr. Putin agreed to link discussions of America's deployment of a missile defense system with prospects for major cuts in the strategic nuclear weapons of each nation.

With the flurry of recent political and diplomatic successes, which have built upon his earlier achievements, Mr. Bush has not only justified his 59-38 approval/disapproval rating he has also earned the working vacation he will be enjoying in Texas this month.

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