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Put a Fork in Him

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By Dan Froomkin
Special to washingtonpost.com
Friday, June 29, 2007; 1:10 PM

President Bush's last, best chance to achieve any significant legislative victory in the twilight of his presidency died yesterday in the Senate, killed by members of his own party.

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Bush's proposal to overhaul the nation's immigration policy fell 14 votes short of the 60-vote filibuster-proof majority that White House officials had assured reporters was well in hand. Three out of four Republican senators ultimately turned against their party's erstwhile leader.

Visibly shaken after yesterday's rejection, Bush appears to have little to look forward to in the last 19 months of his presidency.

Ron Hutcheson writes for McClatchy Newspapers: "The Senate's rejection Thursday of President Bush's immigration plan was the latest in a series of embarrassments that have exposed Bush's political weakness and shaken his hold on power. . . .

"In the space of a single short week, Bush was hit with more Republican defections on Iraq, more bad news from the battlefield, more subpoenas from a hostile Congress, a new assault on his signature education plan and embarrassing disclosures about his vice president.

"He also found himself in a fight over executive privilege that begs comparisons to Richard Nixon's legal battles during the Watergate scandal.

"'It's the incredible shrinking presidency. He's lost battles in the courts. He's lost battles in Iraq. He's lost battles on Capitol Hill,' said Paul Light, a professor of public service at New York University.

"'His bank account is empty and there's nowhere to go for more. I think his presidency is essentially over.'"

Susan Page writes for USA Today: "The agenda during the final 18 months of his tenure is no longer Bush's to shape. . . .

"Presidential scholar Fred Greenstein of Princeton says Bush's situation reminds him of 'the ragged ends of a whole collection of modern presidencies,' including Richard Nixon amid Watergate and Lyndon Johnson during Vietnam. Greenstein has delayed publishing the third edition of his highly regarded book on presidential leadership, The Presidential Difference, until it was clear how Bush's immigration push would fare.

"'It's a plus for his impulse to lead,' Greenstein says of Bush. 'But he's caught up in the larger Greek tragedy of his presidency,' now driven by the Iraq war. "

Ben Feller writes for the Associated Press: "President Bush likes big ideas. Yet his second term shows the risk -- big collapses. . . .


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