President Bush & the Clinton Pardons

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Hi, I'm Bill O'Reilly. Thank you for watching us tonight.

Some bumps in the night for President Bush. That's the subject of this evening's Talking Points Memo.

A new poll by the Pew Research people shows Mr. Bush's job approval rating has fallen 20 points since January to 60 percent. Primary reason for that is the economy, which is shaky, as we all know, and people are uneasy.

The president's economic team is largely invisible, and the stock market is punishing retirement accounts and mutual funds.

No president can control the economy. It's mostly about cycles, and we are in a bad one right now.

But as we saw with Bush the elder, the American people want a president that appears to be doing something. Perception is reality.

The poll shows that the president's approval rating among Republicans has dropped 12 percent since January, and that should raise some concern at the White House. Mr. Bush needs his core to stay loyal.

At this point in his term, I think Mr. Bush has done a relatively good job. He has waged an aggressive war against terror, he's cutting taxes for working Americans, and he seems to be an honest guy.

But the president needs to be more open. He would be well advised to lay out his vision for improving the economy and the reasons he wants to remove Saddam Hussein directly to the public. If I were advising Mr. Bush, I would tell him to hold a series of town meetings across the country so that everyday Americans could ask him questions. It is time for that.

Mr. Bush needs to be open and accessible.

The problem is that there are some in the executive branch, including possibly the president himself, that love the secrecy thing. We all know about the secret list of energy advisers to the vice president. And last week another disturbing curtain was dropped.

Lawyers for the president do not want you and I to know anything about President Clinton's pardon of Marc Rich. White House counsel Alberto Gonzalez is arguing that the executive privilege should prevent any documents at all about the sleazy pardon from becoming public.

Talking Points has always maintained that the powerful protect each other, and now it's being proven again. Bush is protecting Clinton, even though the American people have an absolute right to know exactly why Mr. Clinton pardoned this despicable guy after his ex-wife donated millions to the Clinton library.

Again, we need open government, not shady deals, and President Bush might rethink this strategy of operating a closed administration.

Americans like Mr. Bush as a president. He should use that advantage to level with the folks.

And that's The Memo.

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