His approval ratings are in the 20s, his top domestic and foreign initiatives are in tatters, and even his No. 2 is arguing that he's not really part of the administration. Rock bottom for President Bush? Think again.
With the immigration compromise holding on by a thread, House Republicans this morning will seek to sever it with an unusual party resolution condemning the president's proposal. And Sen. Richard Lugar, a White House loyalist and the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, gave a surprise speech on the Senate floor last night calling for a change in policy in Iraq. "Our course in Iraq has lost contact with our vital national security interests in the Middle East and beyond," said Lugar, R-Ind. The Wall Street Journal's David Rogers calls it "a double barrel of dissent from Republicans."
As for the controversy over the administration's expert (ahem) marksman, pity Dana Perino for having to explain the inexplicable from the White House briefing room podium yesterday. How does the White House feel about Vice President Dick Cheney's contention that he's not part of the executive branch? "I'm not a legal scholar. . . . I'm not opining on his argument that his office is making. . . . I don't know why he made the arguments that he did," Perino said, per The Washington Post's Dana Milbank, who places Cheney in the undisclosed location of the government's "fourth branch."
How long before all of this bubbles over into the presidential campaign? Maybe it's already there. That's one way to read the GOP's fund-raising woes -- and it's no longer just Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who's worrying about lagging numbers.
Former governor Mitt Romney, R-Mass., who is beginning to distance himself more from the Bush administration, let slip yesterday that he's floated himself another loan even while holding another last burst of high-dollar fund-raisers. The fact that he can do so with such ease surely frustrates McCain, who is chasing a moving target. But what does it say that the Republican with the most impressive fund-raising operation is worried?
Romney once said paying his own way to the White House would be "akin to a nightmare," but he is very much awake after having spent $4.25 million on early ads. "Because I have to, all right?" Romney said when asked why he's chipping in beyond the $2.4 million he contributed in the first quarter, The Boston Globe's Scott Helman reports.
As for the Democrats, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., who's either rolling in it or worried about getting rolled, fired off an e-mail message to supporters blasting "pundits and Washington insiders" for caring about the money race -- and asking for a final series of donations in the process. The move came hours after he tapped his (presumably flush) campaign account with his first ad of the election cycle (we get the bipartisan imagery, but couldn't he have found a single Republican who hasn't endorsed a candidate yet?).
Though the ad's timing seems odd (who's paying attention a week before the Fourth of July?), Jeff Zeleny of The New York Times points out that Obama is taking to the airwaves in Iowa a week before the Clintons are set to make their first joint campaign appearance in the state.