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Lame duck status, carefully explained:
Five months after President Bush was sworn in for another four years, his political authority appears to be ebbing, both within his own party, where members of Congress are increasingly if sporadically going their own way, and among Democrats, who have discovered that they pay little or no price for defying him.
In the last week, Mr. Bush has responded by lashing out at Democrats, casting them as obstructionists, a strategy that carries some risk given that it seems to acknowledge an inability by Republicans to carry out a governing platform. Searching as well for a more positive message, the administration, which has always been reluctant to acknowledge that events are not unfolding precisely as planned, has embarked on a public relations campaign intended to reassure Americans that Mr. Bush is attuned to their concerns.
Mr. Bush has offered nothing new in the way of policy but is instead reiterating his views that the war in Iraq is worth the sacrifices it has demanded and that his approaches on issues like energy and trade are the best way of addressing economic jitters. But his message is being undercut somewhat by the more outspoken mavericks in his own party.
Soon as people start talking about Bush being a lame duck, then he is a lame duck. Congress stops following, Bush is no longer a leader. And it's really hard to blame the opposition when you control every branch of government.