He may be a lame duck, but he still rules the roost.
President Bush dismissed yesterday suggestions that his influence is waning less than six months into his second term, blaming partisanship and timidity in Congress for the lack of action on his plans to bring change to the United Nations, restructure Social Security and enact a new energy policy this year.
"I don't worry about anything here in Washington, D.C.," Bush said during a news conference in the White House's Rose Garden. "I feel comfortable in my role as the president, and my role . . . is to push for reform." With Democrats and Republicans alike questioning the clout of a president whose approval ratings have sunk to new lows, Bush said it is Congress that must prove it is "capable of getting anything done."
While stem cells and the other contentious issues to come, including CAFTA, Bolton and Social Security will continue to eat away at Bush's mojo, Democrats are a ways away from reestablishing themselves as the majority party. Brownstein writes about the difficulty of getting blue senators in red states (if the election were held today, which it's not).
Whatever happens in those races, the Democrats' ability to win Republican-held Senate seats next year in red states such as Montana, Tennessee and Missouri — and to defend their seats in red states such as Nebraska, Florida and North Dakota — may reveal more about their long-term prospects of regaining a Senate majority.
Democratic pollster Geoff Garin noted that in the last two elections, Democrats have come close to taking the White House, even though they've lost more states than they've won. That's because the high-population states they did win — such as New York and California — have large numbers of electoral college votes. But, regardless of population, each state has two Senate seats, so Democrats must compete on a broader map to realistically contend for a Senate majority.
"You can cobble together a viable electoral college strategy with a minority of states, but you simply can't cobble together a Senate majority that way," Garin said.