Although Maureen Dowd is generally vapid, her column last Thursday was 100% right to mock the notion that Bush will take this second term as an opportunity to extend the hand of reconciliation to those of the losing side of electoral ledger. If you think there's going to anything gracious about what's coming down the Bush pike over the next four years, you're in for an extremely unpleasant surprise. We may as well kiss the last of the New Deal goodbye.
Bush and Rove have said that the two Presidencies they admire most are McKinley's and Roosevelt's. McKinley is no surprise: he established the dominance of the Republican Party for a generation, and he was directed in that effort by Mark Hanna, the first modern campaign manager and arguably the most influential political figure in this country since the Civil War (you can see why Rove likes this). What is a surprise is that Bush so admires Roosevelt, whose policy legacy he has set about systematically to repudiate. What he admires about Roosevelt, however, is not just Roosevelt's ability to build a dominant coalition while smirking at his enemies. What he admires most about Roosevelt, I suspect, was the old rogue's use of a war to galvanize the country around his domestic program, to use the war to consolidate political and policy advantages at home.