Not a Close Call?
As the Bush administration is no longer in control of the agenda, some are starting to predict a rout. Bush's approval ratings are based on the facts on the ground in Iraq, and it will be very hard for him to change the perception that things are not wildly out of control over there.
The challenge for Bush is that most judgments about his performance are likely to hinge on events that are, for the most part, outside his control.
But he knows that getting a handle on Iraq is essential. It now appears that Bush is planning to pull out of Iraq as soon as possible, according to the British press. To buy some time, the US is planning to pull troops from South Korea to send to Iraq. And now the US will let the Iraqis make any type of government they choose according to Sec. of State Powell. Powell did say without irony that whatever government Iraqis chose for themselves had to respect basic human rights.
Will this buy Bush the edge he needs to be able to run on the economy instead of his war presidency? But then how will the higher gas prices play out? And can Laura help her husband with his gender gap?
"Women are sick of Bush and all the macho strutting; it's gotten pretty old," says a Republican strategist.
If things don't improve dramatically for Bush over the summer (and it is hard to see how it will get much better with a whole new round of investigations on why Abu Ghraib happened and how far will it go), then it won't matter how much money the Bush campaign has, the voters will have their say in November.