White House strategists are increasingly resigned to a long, miserable spring because of bad news on so many fronts.
"You just get to the point where you hate to go out to your stoop and pick up your paper in the morning and see what today's lead story is," says an adviser to President Bush. "The news always seems to be bad and we can't catch a break."
Only improvement on the ground in Iraq will lift the president's fortunes, and that will take many weeks if it happens at all, Bush allies concede.
"It's still 'our' war and if it doesn't get better we're in big trouble," the GOP adviser says. "President Bush's legacy is tied to Iraq, and what happens there will make all the difference for Republicans."
But the remarkable parade of bad news hasn't let up for weeks--the loss of Congress to the Democrats; the conviction of Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Cheney's former chief of staff, in the CIA leak case; the Walter Reed Medical Center fiasco; the ongoing troubles of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales; White House Press Secretary Tony Snow's recurrence of cancer; and Monday's loss for the administration in the Supreme Court over the government's responsibility to fight global warming.
Bush is clearly aware of his PR problems. That's one reason he lashed out so strongly against antiwar Democrats in his Rose Garden statement this morning. He's attempting to regain the offensive on Iraq in domestic political terms. Among his goals are to make the case that Democrats aren't adequately supporting the troops and that they aren't giving his "surge" of forces a chance to succeed.
By Kenneth T. Walsh