Friday, December 30, 2005

The year's top story: Bush's tumble

Friday, December 30, 2005

The events deemed by the punditry to have defined the year now ending are many, including Hurricane Katrina, the indictment of Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Dick Cheney's ambassador to the media, the demise of President Bush's Social Security initiative and that ever-popular favorite, the Iraq war, among others. Close in each case, but no cigar.

The event that most dominated 2005 was Bush's free-fall from public favor within months of his 2004 re-election. It has diminished his ability to influence events at home and around the globe and casts a shadow over his party's prospects in next year's midterm elections.

Second-term presidencies are often a rough passage. Ronald Reagan had the Iran-contra scandal, Bill Clinton had Monicagate and for Richard Nixon there was Watergate. Even the sainted Franklin Roosevelt ran into rough second- term seas when he tried to pack the Supreme Court. But none slipped off the re-election pedestal quite so quickly as Bush. Within six months of taking the oath, Bush had plummeted in popularity to near Nixonian lows.

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