On Monday, I explained how and why President Bush's desire to stay relevant in the remainder of his term is unlikely to occur. That said, if the president wishes to stay relevant, I present herewith a laundry list of ideas for him. The sad fact is, most of them would require a complete reversal of course, which, stubborn as he seems to be, is not likely to take place:
1. Bush could attempt to fix the economy, or at a bare minimum feign concern for the economic doldrums in which he has placed the United States. He could do something about the enormous debt his administration has racked up. He could try to bolster the quickly failing dollar. He might even consider expressing one iota of disquietude about his record national debt and America's quickly dissipating leadership in the international finance arena.
2. He could attempt to restore international respect for the country and its diplomatic and military pre-eminence. After all, he destroyed most of the international respect the United States once commanded—by attacking Iraq against the wishes of most of the rest of the western (and all of the eastern) world. To make up for some of the "Hate America" sentiment he has generated, Bush should spend time in office trying to restore America's declining grandeur.
Neocons pushed him into the Iraq war, in part, to reprove America's superpower status. They believed we had lost our reputation for omnipotence when we pulled out of Vietnam. They also believed the Iraq invasion would restore our reputation as the world's superpower.
Instead, the Iraq war had the opposite effect—costing us in terms of military superiority rather than bolstering our standing.
3. Least likely of all, Bush could take a comprehensive and believable pro-environment stand. Last month he broke format and made a small effort to improve the environment of the Chesapeake Bay by signing an executive order to protect striped bass and red drum fish there. It was a positive step and certainly to be lauded after seven years of wanton environmental destruction. But some move or series of moves on a much grander scale would give him a much better chance at reviving his faded relevance.