Buffeted With Problems, Bush Must Chart a Recovery.. or get a new 9/11

Bush ...must consider the degree to which Cheney has now become a liability in his efforts to recover politically. Two Republicans privately said yesterday the taciturn Cheney has become a major burden to the president, and that his association with an unpopular war and proximity to the Libby embarrassment will eat at the administration's credibility. "This 'I'm a sphinx' gig just doesn't get it any more," one of the GOP strategists said.

Democratic pollster Geoffrey Garin said Bush faces bad choices as he attempts to regain momentum. The Miers episode raised questions about his judgment and decisiveness, while the leak investigation has raised questions about the administration's ethics.

"He can try to retreat to his base and make them happy, but that will come at great expense," Garin said. "Or his other option is to try to be what he hasn't been up to now, which is a president of consensus who tries to govern from the center. But we saw the toll that he pays from the right for that. So at the moment, he seems to be much more a captive of events."

Events, however, can energize a president as well torment him. Early in Bush's presidency, for example, many saw Bush bleeding influence; the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks infused him with new purpose and public support.

Buffeted With Problems, Bush Must Chart a Recovery


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