The Note: I Made It Through the Night

His "to be sure" graph: "To be sure, Bush has been able to score victories in Congress, which came out of the November elections with a wider Republican majority."

Howard Fineman, writing refreshingly in a non-zero-sum frame of mind, suggests that the Bush agenda is "losing momentum in a serious and permanent way." LINK

"Yes, Bush has been down politically before, and recovered smartly. He's a fighter, and has the ability to ignore the gloom and doom around him. Yes, the Democrats don't have much of an answer to him other than to shout 'no' on a host of issues. Still, despite Republican control of virtually every lever of power in Washington -- in a way because of that very fact -- Bush finds himself playing defense."

"Maybe Karl Rove is right that sweeping reform is the route to a permanent majority of a GOP-led 'ownership society' of shareholders. But, in the short run, Bush's Social Security crusade has bought him nothing but trouble, and diverted his attention from other problems."

"To this Monday morning quarterback, it's obvious that energy would have been a better play -- and a bold, sweeping plan to cut American dependence on foreign oil is the kind of Nixon-goes-to-China move that Bush could have pulled off."

"Bush's other problem is his Blue-Red approach to politics. The Dems are only too happy these days to embrace it, willingly locked in a sense of victimhood and minority status. The Dems self-isolation would work for Bush -- but only if he could keep all of his Republican colleagues in line. But he can't. Bush remains very popular among Republican voters -- Reagan-like in that respect -- but GOP members of Congress grow less worried by the day about crossing him. They have their own reelections to worry about. Privately, they are worried."

"One other factor. Privately, many members of Congress think the White House has long acted in an imperious and dismissive way towards them."

(Howard Fineman has taken better advantage of the freedom of the Internet than any political journalist we know.)

Deb Orin writes that "maybe strategic confusion" is why Bush is off his game. LINK

"'The Democrats are being totally obstructionist and we're on defense, which puts you in a position of weakness. The administration just isn't engaging with the Democrats or going after them,' said a savvy GOP insider."

"I don't think there's an appetite for that right now -- but eventually, it becomes a necessity."

President Bush's ambitious second-term agenda, designed to outline more priorities and accomplishments for the Administration, has overreached -- on the judiciary and Social Security in particular -- and is paying the price for it, writes David Broder in the column we referenced above. LINK

"The fact that Bush is losing -- and losing badly -- on the issue to which he has devoted more time and effort than any other has had a negative effect on his overall standing and his political influence."

Ethics: old is new:

The Los Angeles Times' Mary Curtius wraps the House vote to repeal the ethics rules enacted in January that have stymied the ethics committee and now opens the door to investigating House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's travel and campaign activities. LINK

But not necessarily without consequence. " . . . the tenor of comments on and off the House floor Wednesday made it clear that the dispute had left its mark on a chamber already riven by harsh partisan politics."

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