Bush's Sinking Relevance

I wondered last week whether President Bush had any idea how annoyingly irrelevant he has become.

The question arose at a hastily arranged White House news conference at which the president was asked whether he felt he was " 'becoming increasingly irrelevant?' In response, Bush cited his vetoes--which only recently has he started exercising on congressional spending. 'When I tell you I'm going to sprint to the finish and finish this job strong, that's one way to ensure that I am relevant,' Bush said."

If the president and his ever thinning string of political advisers (since Karl Rove's departure) believe he'll prove his relevance by more frequent use of the veto pen, they need to take an imagination pill, because more vetoes alone won't cut it.

Looking at his public approval numbers, it's hard to believe there's any way for this president to become relevant again. The Chicago Tribune says, "With the president's public approval ratings in a yearlong slump about to surpass Richard Nixon's for its duration--the two are tied at 13 months of approval ratings below 40 percent--the president has turned to one target in Washington held in even lower regard. Congressional approval stands at 20 percent in the latest Gallup Poll."

There's a bit more hope for Congress, as most members will remain in office beyond 2008. So the point is, this president is unlikely to become relevant again during the remaining year-and-change he has in office. In fact, like a near-dead, disagreeable relative whose time on the respirator is about to expire, the longer he keeps breathing, the less relevant he becomes.

That would not be the case if his presidency had not been such an unrelenting disaster. If he had left the country in a better state than it was when he took office, his tenure would be far from irrelevant, even at this late date in his second term. Nonetheless, in my next entry, I'll make some suggestions as to how he could hope to become marginally relevant in the time he has left in the White House.

By Bonnie Erbe