The WaPo’s Peter Baker seems to be bidding fair to replace Elizabeth Bumiller as Biggest Bush Sycophant Journo of the Week, and considering the competition, that’s saying something.
On Friday, Baker tugged at our heartstrings with a moving narrative about a beleaguered president who, though once jaunty and good-natured, now faces depression and defeat. I tell you, I had all I could do to fight back the tears as our plucky Hero bravely faced his destiny.
He looked uncharacteristically dejected as he approached the lectern, fiddling with papers as he talked and avoiding the sort of winking eye contact he often makes with reporters. And then President Bush did something he almost never does: He admitted defeat.
[F]or a president who makes a point of never giving in, even when he loses, it was a striking moment, underscoring the depth of his political travails. It took almost two years before Bush acknowledged, just months ago, that his effort to reshape Social Security had failed. Now he has surrendered in what was probably his last chance of securing a legacy-making second-term domestic victory.
The desultory appearance in a college hallway here after a speech on Iraq may have marked the death of ambition in Bush’s legislative agenda. The paradigm shift that senior adviser Karl Rove saw after the 2004 election has now proved illusory. The Ownership Society that Bush promised to build in 2005 is rarely mentioned these days. Even the hope-against-hope optimism of finding bipartisan common ground after the 2006 elections has officially evaporated.
Cue the violins.