E. J. Dionne in today's Washington Post:
...the Bush Era ended definitively on Sept. 2, the day Bush first toured the Gulf Coast States after Hurricane Katrina. There was no magic moment with a bullhorn. The utter failure of federal relief efforts had by then penetrated the country's consciousness. Yesterday's resignation of FEMA Director Michael Brown put an exclamation point on the failure.
The source of Bush's political success was his claim that he could protect Americans. Leadership, strength and security were Bush's calling cards. Over the past two weeks, they were lost in the surging waters of New Orleans.
Maybe, maybe not.
Consider two near-simultaneous headlines from this past weekend:
Bush's Popularity Hits New Low: Poll
Speedy Confirmation Expected for Roberts
That's the era we're living in.
In The Nation (subscription only) and Counterpunch, Alexander Cockburn wrote a rebuttal to Dionne a month ago that still stands, even after Katrina:
...The measure of a stricken president is surely an inability to push through the legislation he desires. Remember Bill Clinton. By midsummer in his maiden year of White House occupancy, 1993, he was truly stricken and had to send a Mayday call for lifeboats, which duly arrived under the captaincy of Republican Dave Gergen, with Dickie Morris soon to follow. By July, 1993, as the receptacle of liberal hopes, the Clinton presidency was over.
Look now at Bush. Stricken he may be in the popular polls, but his political agenda flourishes.
... does [John] Roberts face a gauntlet of ferocious interrogatories from Democrat senators? Hardly....
Go now from Roberts to John Bolton and yes, we find another summer triumph for the stricken president.... with the recess appointment, Bolton is installed as US Ambassador to the UN till January, 2007.
Let's move from nominees to legislation.... his energy bill sailed through Congress and he put CAFTA (the Central American Free Trade Agreement), which had seemed dead, over the top. Topping off these triumphs, Bush spun on a dime, deep-sixed his declared intent to veto the Highway Bill, and signed the $286 billion gift to the cement lobby and endangered Republican politicians....
The war in Iraq? It's not popular and there is vocal and conspicuous opposition among the people, but not in the Congress. Cindy Sheehan, mother of a soldier killed in Iraq, draws national attention as she demonstrates outside the gates of Fort Bush in Crawford. Where are the Democratic politicians who should be standing beside her? ...
He's right. Bush has taken some serious hits. Bushism, by contrast, has escaped with hardly a scratch.