SCHIP Veto Delights Bush Advisers

President Bush's veto of the SCHIP children's healthcare bill yesterday--for the second time in recent weeks--has White House advisers delighted.

That's because Bush's aides say the administration is back on the offensive, blocking the majority Democrats in Congress and working Bush's will. Democratic leaders acknowledge that they lack the votes to override him, so Bush will again prevail, as he did the first time, on any override vote. Yet Democratic strategists argue that while Bush may be winning some legislative battles, he is losing the war for public opinion.

"For all the success he's had in blocking the Democrats, he's had virtually no success in moving the broader political debate in his direction," Democratic pollster Geoff Garin tells U.S. News. Garin says most Americans want change in Washington, not deadlock, and Bush symbolizes the status quo. "To the extent he seems to be an obstacle to change," Garin adds, "he will be a burden to his party and candidates."

Of course, White House insiders argue that it is the Democrats who are on the wrong side of the issues, and the voters will move back toward the Republicans next fall.

By Kenneth T. Walsh