Published August 24, 2005
The Bush presidency, a crossroads. That is the subject of this evening's "Talking Points Memo."
As you may know, the president's job approval rating is dropping into dangerous territory, the low 40's. If he falls much farther, his power to get things done falls as well.
Three things are bedeviling Mr. Bush — chaos in Iraq, chaos on the southern border, and high gas prices. The president either deals effectively with those issues or risks going down in history as a failure. And that is the no-spin truth.
Let's take them one by one. The administration has accomplished much in Iraq. There is a free media there for the first time. 96 percent of all children have received free medical vaccinations. And new construction is booming.
But the USA has paid a high price for this in blood and treasure. And the stubborn terrorist problem has not been resolved.
If the Bush administration cannot break the back of terrorism in Iraq, all the other good things will be forgotten. And the situation must improve soon, as the president is losing domestic support.
A spike in oil has angered many Americans. It costs OPEC (search) less than $4 a barrel to market the oil, less than a $4. And the cartel charges $66 a barrel to sell it. Obviously, a huge price gouge that could send the world into economic recession.
American oil companies are making near-record profits. So the pipeline is fat and happy, while working Americans getting hosed. That is very bad news for any sitting president.
Now Mr. Bush has not been an outspoken conservation guy, has not been creative about rewarding those who develop and use alternative fuels. He must find a way to get OPEC under control.
The southern border is simply out of control. Once again, the Bush administration has been passive in the face of disaster. New Mexico and Arizona have declared emergencies. And Arnold Schwarzenegger (search) has demanded the feds help California.
In five years, the Bush administration has added about 1,000 new border parole agents, but millions, millions of illegal aliens continue to get into this country, along with a record amount of narcotics. Clearly, border security is not a success for the Bush administration.
The president has done many good things. His tax cuts after 9/11 (search) saved the economy. His aggressive terror fighting policies have badly damaged al Qaeda. And his support for traditional America has made it difficult for the far left to change this country through the courts.
So Mr. Bush, in my opinion, has not done a bad job overall, but Iraq oil and the border threaten a derailment. The presidency is a performance business, but he still has time to turn things around. And that's "The Memo."
The Most Ridiculous Item of the Day
Call me crazy, but I can't exactly see Jesus calling for the murder of Chavez. And if Jesus did feel that strongly about it, I believe he could make it happen without the encouragement of Reverend Robertson.
—You can watch Bill O'Reilly's "Talking Points Memo" and "Most Ridiculous Item" weeknights at 8 and 11 p.m. ET on the FOX News Channel. Send your comments to: email@example.com