President Who?

By Dan Froomkin
Special to
Wednesday, October 4, 2006; 12:20 PM

Is this what it feels like to be a lame duck?

President Bush is careening around the country, feverishly campaigning for Republican congressional candidates and unleashing highly provocative accusations against his Democratic critics.

But nobody really cares.

The only thing anyone wants to hear from the president right now is his reaction to the Congressional page-sex scandal revolving around former representative Mark Foley and rapidly enveloping the GOP House leadership.

On top of that, the public doesn't trust him. A fresh round of polls shows that most Americans think Bush has been intentionally misleading about the progress in Iraq, they oppose his war there, and they don't think it's making them safer. His approval rating is back down to a dismal 39 percent.

And establishment Washington has finally and conclusively written him off as being in a state of denial.

The Scandal That Ate Washington

Here's the text of Bush's statement while visiting George W. Bush Elementary School in Stockton, California, in between fundraisers yesterday.

"I was dismayed and shocked to learn about Congressman Foley's unacceptable behavior. I was disgusted by the revelations and disappointed that he would violate the trust of the citizens who placed him in office."

As for House Speaker Dennis Hastert, quite possibly the next political casualty of the scandal for failing to act earlier to protect boys from Foley's overtures, Bush was generally supportive.

"Now, I know Denny Hastert, I meet with him a lot. He is a father, teacher, coach, who cares about the children of this country. I know that he wants all the facts to come out and he wants to ensure that these children up there on Capitol Hill are protected. I'm confident he will provide whatever leadership he can to law enforcement in this investigation."

But does that mean he thinks Hastert shouldn't resign?

Mark Silva blogs for the Chicago Tribune that Bush twice refused to answer shouting reporters asking that specific question.

CONTINUED     1                 >

© 2006 The Washington Post Company