Time magazine reports that new White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten has created an informal, five-point “recovery plan” to help shore up President Bush’s second term. Among the steps: “Deploy Guns and Badges,” an “unabashed play to members of the conservative base who are worried about illegal immigration”; “Make Wall Street Happy,” an “effort to curry favor with dispirited Bush backers in the investment world”; and “Brag More.”
But the “riskiest, and potentially most consequential, element of the plan” is Bolten’s strategy to reclaim Bush’s “security credibility” — take the focus off Iraq by rattling sabers at Iran:
Presidential advisers believe that by putting pressure on Iran, Bush may be able to rehabilitate himself on national security, a core strength that has been compromised by a discouraging outlook in Iraq.
Aggressive Bush administration posturing risks impairing efforts to form a united international front against Iran’s nuclear ambitions while rallying the Iranian people to the defense of their radical government. But aren’t those costs worth it, if President Bush’s approval rating can come soaring back to 40 percent?