Facing twin crises that will test and define his presidency, George Bush shrugged off the political pressures of the threat of war in the Persian Gulf and a deficit-induced economic recession.
"Look, nobody said it would be easy," Bush said at a news conference Wednesday. Asked whether his presidency is "on the line," he noted that "every once in a while the going gets a little tough," but, "I don't feel embattled at all."Fielding questions from out-of-town reporters, Bush spoke with gratitude of the broad support for his policy in the gulf and with passion of the need for a $500 billion deficit-reduction plan before Congress.
His comments also revealed a certain "I told you so" attitude toward critics and skeptics who have questioned the decisions left in the wake of his passage from honeymoon to hot seat in the 20 months he has been in office.
"I try not to sound egotistical, but we've been right on German unification," he said as Germans rejoiced in the end of their postwar division.
For a politician previously accused of lacking vision, it smacked of special significance. But Bush, riding high in the polls, denied thinking in political terms, saying, "The American people are entitled to something a little bit more broader-gauge than that."
"I guess it's about as complicated a period as we've had since I've been president," he said, "but I'm not looking at it in terms of re-election."
Bush winced at a comparison to Jimmy Carter, who was voted out of office after being dogged by energy and hostage crises of his own, and indicated he would not allow his current problems to exact a heavy toll, at least for now.
"We've got two big things coming together now," he said. "One is the deficit and one is this crisis halfway around the world. But I'm telling you honestly I don't look at it in terms of whether it's good for a Bush presidency or popular politically."