REMAIN SOMEWHAT ALERT
I said this about Bush a couple of weeks ago when I thought the immigration bill had already been finished off:
His poll numbers are going to go up -- slightly -- if this fight is really over.
The uptick will consist exclusively of right-wingers returning to the fold -- but the David Broders of the world are going to grasp at anything that's going on at the same time and ascribe the uptick to that. Two days without the death of any U.S. troops? Another Al-Qaeda #3 dead or captured? Must be the reason.
Don't fall for it.
I don't know if this can really happen now; the conventional wisdom, more and more, is that the problems with the Bush presidency are irreversible (gee, ya think?). See, for instance, the front page of today's New York Daily News ("DEAD DUCK WALKING -- Bush now worse than lame duck after immigration bill's defeat").
But you should still watch for stories with headlines like "Saving the Bush Legacy." They won't come from acknowledged conservatives, who are fed up -- they'll come from, say, The Washington Post. There'll be talk about AIDS initiatives and Darfur. Tiny positive signs, on any subject, even if they don't pan out, will be overpraised. Utterly imaginary scenarios -- Condi trumps Cheney! The Baker commission is taken seriously again! -- will be written about as if they could actually happen. And meanwhile, the numbers will go up a tiny bit, because some right-wingers will come back to the fold as Bush fights those evil Democrats in Congress.
Ignore all this, and mock anyone who talks as if any real change is possible.