Just two weeks ago, U.S. News reported
on how happy presidential aides were for a change. After having a rough time, Bush's West Wing finally believed they'd turned a corner and were optimistic about the future.
Relieved White House officials say President Bush has finally broken the cycle of bad news and political setbacks he has endured for months.
The officials say the bipartisan agreement on immigration...is seen as a sign that times will get better for Bush as he pursues his second-term agenda. "Immigration cleared the air," a senior White House official told U.S. News.
As Jim Rutenberg noted today
, in case there was any doubt, the lame-duck period has officially begun.
[E]arly euphoria only made the grand bargain's grand collapse on Thursday night all the more of a blow, pointing up a stubbornly unshakable dynamic for President Bush in the final 19 months of his term: With low approval ratings and the race to succeed him well under way, his ability to push his agenda has faded to the point where he can fairly be judged to have entered his lame duck period. [...]
Rich Bond, a former Republican Party chairman and deputy White House chief of staff for Mr. Bush's father, said of the president, "He's in a greatly weakened state, and he's playing the best hand he can."
Which isn't saying much. On immigration, the president couldn't rally support from members of his own party, a failure which ultimately did the legislation in. In case there was any doubt, Bush's reservoir of "political capital" is now empty. The immigration bill was the one major, sweeping policy area in which the White House and congressional Democratic leaders are at least near the same page. With this legislation falling apart, Bush appears to have lost his only shot at scoring a major legislative victory in the 110th Congress -- and he won't be president for the 111th.
Bush can thump his chest and declare "I am the president!
" as much as he wants, but that won't change the political reality. If he looks like a lame duck, and he quacks like a lame duck....