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`Bush Adrift' is Nonsense

PRESIDENT BUSH has been in office just 63 days and some reporters have written his administration off already. It seems to me that's a little premature for a man who has another 1,397 days left in the White House.

In the cloistered world of Washington, Mr. Bush is being pilloried for not having yet appointed every assistant secretary for this and that. But around the lunch-counter in Lubbock, Texas, I doubt that the good ol' boys are cluck-clucking because some third-level positions at State and the Pentagon remain unfilled.

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Some pundits are testy because Mr. Bush has not advanced a grand vision of how he plans to remake the world. America has military power and an abiding love of freedom. It should use the first judiciously and the second vigorously in opposing tyranny. But the world is not waiting for a Pax Americana - a blueprint indicating how the Bush administration will restructure the world as it wants it by l992.

Some critics are charging that despite a rather major excursion already to Asia, and another one planned for Europe in May, Mr. Bush is letting Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev outrun him on the world stage.

True, Mr. Gorbachev is getting good world press. That is predictable for a man cautiously dragging Russia out of the dark ages. But does anybody seriously believe that the Soviet system, either political or economic, has become a beacon of attraction to the benighted of this world? When they flee Nicaragua, Nigeria, and Cambodia, it is not for Minsk, Pinsk, and Leningrad that they yearn, but Miami, La Jolla, and New York.

We Americans are a restless lot and our reporters are the most restless of all. The very profession demands new novelty every day. Have we become so mesmerized by the daily television extravaganza of the Reagan years (condemned at the time as manipulation) that bereft of it we feel adrift and leaderless?

Is Mr. Bush napping in the Oval Office, or simply using the first months of his presidency for reflection, review, analysis?

True, he has not, in a mere two months solved the budget problem or brought peace to the Middle East. But must quiet management be dismissed as lack of direction? Must lack of daily media sensation be equated with inertia?

In other words, is our fast-food society too impatient, too unforgiving, with its newly elected presidents?

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President Reagan used to get criticized for being too relaxed about his job while his public relations experts devised diverting daily titillation for the media.

President Bush's emerging problem is that he is so involved in the detail of government that he is not providing the daily titillation the media used to say it didn't want, but which it apparently does.

Mr. Bush floods Washington with his little blue handwritten cards. He surrounds himself with an extraordinary array of guests, seeking information, and contesting opinion. He works Congress by phone. He has commissioned a broad review of American foreign policy, due by mid-May. He has called for a detailed evaluation of Mr. Gorbachev, a man who must be taken seriously, but a man whose policies - if implemented - would produce a much stronger Soviet Union.

He is preparing for a major meeting in Europe with allied leaders marking the 40th anniversary of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and bolstering that West European defense organization.

All this is hardly a laggard record. But it does not for sensation make. On network television, which thrives on images but which finds it hard to capture ideas, it is a dull mish-mash which therefore ends up on the cutting-room floor.

There may not have been as much drama as journalists would have liked during Mr. Bush's presidential honeymoon.

But there are still 1,397 days to go.

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