WASHINGTON—Amid allegations that his thoughtless and insensitive decisions have damaged his relationship with the nation, President George W. Bush vowed Monday that he would, starting now, "make everything better."
"This time I'm serious," Bush said. "I am ready to make a fresh start if we can just put the past behind us. I promise."
An estimated 35 million citizens listened to the president's televised remarks while silently crying behind locked bathroom doors.
Though Bush told all Americans they owed it to him to give him one more chance, he admitted that there was no excuse for his mishandling of national affairs.
"Things have just been so crazy at work lately," he said.
During the 14-minute address Bush acknowledged that he and the country had drifted apart. He accepted some of the blame, but stressed that it was partly the American people's fault, and went on to chide them for not giving him an opportunity to explain, not standing behind him, and failing to understand his "very real" need for unchecked executive authority.
"My job is stressful," Bush said. "Trust me, things will calm down in a few months once I don't have to deal with it anymore."
The president, whose approval ratings have dropped steadily in recent years, said he had no idea how bad things had gotten until he found out that an overwhelming percentage of Americans didn't even bother responding to an opinion poll this month about his recent $3.1 trillion budget proposal.
Bush has since taken steps towards reconciliation with the American people, including promoting a promise to help alleviate the fiscal woes the U.S. has faced in recent months. Bush said he knew that the $300 he intended to give to every citizen "couldn't possibly make up for how [he has] governed," but nevertheless asked the nation to have faith in him.
"I know it's not much, but it's a start, right?" Bush said. "And it hasn't always been bad. Doesn't this remind you of that other $300 rebate I gave you in 2003? You always forget all the times I'm a really great president. We have really had some wonderful moments."
"Cut me some slack here, for Christ's sake," Bush continued. "I'm trying. I really am."
In addition to providing economic relief, Bush said he has taken other measures to strengthen his bond with the nation. According to the president, his newly proposed warrantless-wiretapping bill will greatly broaden the reach of his personal attention to the American people's needs and put him in a position to be more directly involved in their lives.
The president concluded by imploring the nation to help him rectify the situation, stressing that he always has America's best interests at heart but cannot be expected to improve things all by himself.
"You have to realize that everything I do, I do for you," Bush said. "Do you think I like denying health care to underprivileged children, or plunging the country deeper and deeper into debt? Well, I don't, and I hope someday you'll understand that. In the meantime, I'm asking the American people to try to meet me halfway on this."
Despite Bush's seemingly conciliatory stance, public response to Bush's promises has been frosty at best. Cato Institute policy scholar Brian Whitaker echoed the sentiments of many Americans, calling Bush's recent overtures "too little, too late."
"We want to believe that he's finally going to be the president we always wanted, but we've given him so many chances," Whitaker said. "I don't think we can handle another disappointment. Maybe it's time to realize that President Bush will never be the head of state we need him to be."
"Then again, maybe our expectations are unfair," Whitaker added. "He seemed so sincere this time. He wouldn't abuse his executive powers if he didn't care about us, right?"
Whitaker predicted that the nation will likely move forward and try to forget Bush, though it may be difficult for Americans to ever trust a president again. He said the current crop of presidential contenders offers little in the way of an alternative to Bush, but maintained that "at least Barack Obama listens to us."