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Ablockageinthesystem

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Ablockageinthesystem

Mr Bush will probably have to swallow all this and more in the shape of, for instance, blocked trade deals.
This is not just because he knows that the Democrats' programme is modest and popular, but also
because he now needs the Democrats' co-operation if he is to amass any sort of domestic-policy legacy in the 746 days he will have left when Ms Pelosi takes up the gavel.
One cherished, and praiseworthy, goal of the president's is to achieve a just and economically literate solution to the problem of illegal immigration in America. The current system makes criminals of some 12m people who only want to work hard and on whose efforts large parts of the economy now depend.
Mr Bush would also like to find a way to ensure that the tax cuts he enacted in his first years in office do not expire entirely, as they are currently scheduled to do, in 2011. And, most necessary of all, Mr Bush wants to make some progress towards tackling America's gathering health-care crisis. His attempts to rein in costs that are soaring as the population ages and medical technology gets ever more expensive have so far been badly botched.
None of this can be achieved without the Democrats. So Iraq is, potentially, a triple problem for Mr Bush as his presidency moves into its final quarter. First, it is the largest and hardest issue he has to deal with, consuming most of his attention and bringing down most of the criticism heaped upon him. Second, presidents saddled with hostile congresses often try to salvage their reputations abroad; but the ramifications around the world of America's slow defeat in Iraq make it hard for Mr Bush to do that.
Third, Iraq threatens to undercut Mr Bush's domestic agenda too. Within the next few days Mr Bush, who once called himself the decider, will have to make the toughest decision of his presidency. He has promised to unveil a new plan for Iraq. It will be his response not just to last month's Iraq Study Group report, which advocated the withdrawal of combat troops from Iraq by early next year, but also to the evident truth that the current plan is not working.
The Democrats, almost to a man, favour speedy withdrawal, and won last November's congressional
election in part on that basis. Many Republicans, most of the Washington foreign-policy establishment and allegedly the president's own father feel the same way. Mr Bush, though, seems all but certain to opt for the policy of surgea sharp, though temporary, increase in troop levels. This will place him on a
collision course with the Democratswho oppose the idea on principle and who, sometime next month,
will be asked to vote on yet another supplemental budget for Iraqthis one of anything from $100 billion to $170 billion. And if Iraq policy descends, as it very well may, into a bitter wrangle between the executive and the legislature, the chances of bipartisan progress on domestic policy will look all the slimmer.
It all sounds very bleak for Mr Bush; yet there are still ways in which he could redeem some of his reputation. America remains the world's most powerful country; and Mr Bush could use some of that power to tackle some of the world's most pressing problems, such as climate change and terrorism. With new leaders in Germany, Japan, Canada and Italy, and Tony Blair and Jacques Chirac both on their way out, America's president is about to become the most experienced leader among the G7 countries. But bogged down in Iraq, and shorn of congressional support, Mr Bush will have to find new reserves of statesmanship to make use of these advantages.      



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