IN DEALING WITH the new Democratic Congress, President Bush is said to have a big choice to make. To get anything done, he either has to compromise with Democrats or ally himself with an as-yet-unformed majority coalition of Republicans and moderate-to-conservative Democrats. But there's a third option: take bold moves on his own, based on his presidential powers.
The president, stung by the defeat of Republicans in the midterm election, may be reluctant to step out on his own. The safer tack would be to negotiate with Congress to pass legislation in hopes of enhancing the legacy of his presidency. That's the normal exit strategy for presidents.
But Bush has little to lose and much to gain by acting on his own. His legacy will be determined largely by the outcome in Iraq and in the war on terror--and we may not know that verdict for years. Congressional passage of a compromise measure on, say, immigration or education reform would be nice, but neither is likely to affect his legacy in a major way. So why not be bold and go unilateral?
Here are ways the president can do just that. All they require is maximum moxie.
* Fire generals.
* Keep John Bolton as American ambassador to the United Nations.
* Stop earmarks.
* Give judicial nominees recess appointments.
* Talk up the military option in Iran.
* Apply the Kennedy model to North Korea.
* Push a radical energy independence plan.
* A final gift to the world.