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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, May 3, 2006

Salvaging presidency goes beyond mojo

Last weekend, President Bush joked about surviving the recent White House shake-up. The next day, the newcomer expected to revitalize the West Wing called the staff changes a "way to get our mojo back."

That phrase offered up by the new White House chief of staff, Joshua Bolten, was perhaps an attempt at displaying a little street cred to the American public.

But with less than 1,000 days left in the Bush administration, staff changes and hip phrases just aren't enough to lift the president's 34 percent approval rating his lowest ever.

If credibility is to be restored, it will take meaningful policy changes in key areas.

Among them: more clarity on our mission in Iraq. Three years ago on May 1, the president declared victory. Now, with more than 2,400 U.S. lives lost and costs soaring to more than $300 billion this year, it's time to redefine the terms.

Bush must communicate a clear strategy that will help determine when our work there is accomplished.

The war has contributed to Bush's deficit spending, which has pushed the national debt to more than $8 trillion. The government can't continue to cut taxes and continue its spending spree. Disciplined leadership means Bush should make good on a threat to veto a $92 billion supplemental budget laden with pork-barrel spending. But in his two terms, Bush has yet to exercise that veto power.

Improving the administration's environmental track record is also key. From global warming to alternative fuels to protecting our national forests, the administration has yet to develop forward-looking policies that work in tandem with reasonable environmental protections. Bush meets with the Big Three automakers this month. That's an opportunity to put some muscle behind his push for alternative fuels.

The recent staff shakeup needn't be just a re-arrangement of deck chairs on the Titanic. There's still time for meaningful change let's hope the administration can recognize the need before it's too late.