George W. Bush’s public humiliation at the hands of his own party showcases the lack of clout left for America’s most unpopular President in history as he heads into the waning days of his failed Presidency.
With the White House scrambling to salvage its controversial, $750 billion bailout plan before the nation plunges headlong into a depression, the President finds himself a pariah within his own party.
Meanwhile, his public popularity, already at an all-time low, continues to slide.
President George W. Bush on Tuesday pursued his two-week blitz on behalf of an economic rescue package, a thus-far failed effort showing his lack of clout five weeks before voters pick his successor.
"He has no political capital. If the banks have no capital, then neither does George W. Bush. And I don’t think there’s a rescue plan for him," said Eric Davis, a political scientist at Middlebury College in Vermont.
Offering fresh warnings but no specific news ideas in public, Bush pleaded Tuesday with lawmakers opposed to the Wall Street bailout, particularly fellow Republicans, to accept that government inaction will only deepen the crisis.
"The reality is that we are in an urgent situation, and the consequences will grow worse each day if we do not act," said Bush, who has delivered similar written, televised and radio appeals for 12 of the past 13 days.
He has used formal, prime-time speeches to the nation; written statements; his address to the UN General Assembly; joint public appearances at one-on-one meetings with world leaders; and even an unprecedented White House crisis summit with congressional leaders and both major contenders to succeed him.
Bush has wooed reluctant lawmakers by telephone, while top economic aides such as Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and political advisers like Vice President Dick Cheney and White House chief of staff Josh Bolten have called and reached out in person as part of an all-out campaign.
But on Monday, the House of Representatives voted 228-205 to reject plans to pump as much as 700 billion dollars to save troubled banks, with 133 of Bush’s Republicans joining 95 Democrats in voting no.