“WhenRepublicanswontheHouse andSenatein1994,PresidentClinton was badly shaken,” Fred Barnes writes in the Weekly Standard.
“At a White House press conference, a reporter suggested Clinton might no longer be ‘relevant’ as a leader. It took weeks for Clinton to recover his composure. It turned out, of course, that he was as relevant as ever as a national leader. Presidents always are,” Mr. Barnes said.
“If President Bush was shaken, he didn’t show it. He waited only hours after Democrats had captured Congress [two weeks ago] to assert himself. And he instantly changed the media story from an Election Day repudiation of his presidency to his removal of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. He followed that with a press conference at which he listed the issues where compromise might be reached with congressional Democrats. This was before he’d met with either Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reid.
“Bush is a lame duck, but only technically (he won’t run again). He intends to be a very live duck in his final two years in the White House. When he talked to Henry Paulson, then the CEO of Goldman Sachs, last spring about becoming Treasury secretary, he promised to push hard for a serious agenda no matter what the outcome of the midterm election. The result was bad for Bush, but he plans to keep his promise.
“Is Bush suffering from delusions of grandeur? Not really. True, he’ll have to make concessions, probably painful ones, on legislative initiatives. And his prospects for getting conservative judicial nominees through the Senate are slim.
“But as we learned from the Gingrich years, you can’t govern from Capitol Hill. The president, even weakened as Bush is, remains the central figure in Washington.”