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George W. Bush is very much a lame-duck President and that message was driven home this week with the total collapse of the "grand bargain" immigration bill which failed dramatically in the Senate.
The defeat is a bitter pill for a President who has rode roughshod over Congress for the last six-and-a-half years and his growing inability to move or affect legislation showcases a shifting of power from one end of the Capitol Hall to the other.
For many, that shift is long over due.
Writes Jim Rutenberg of The New York Times:
The breakthrough on the â€œgrand bargainâ€ on immigration a few weeks ago had brought new life to a White House under siege, putting a long-sought goal suddenly within reach. After many grim months, there was almost giddiness at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
But that early euphoria only made the grand bargainâ€™s grand collapse on Thursday night all the more of a blow, pointing up a stubbornly unshakable dynamic for President Bush in the final 19 months of his term: With low approval ratings and the race to succeed him well under way, his ability to push his agenda has faded to the point where he can fairly be judged to have entered his lame duck period.
In all, 38 of the 48 Senate Republicans effectively voted against the White House on the crucial procedural vote on the immigration bill, leaving the presidentâ€™s No. 1 domestic priority somewhere between stalled and dead.
The White House has similarly been through a sharp reversal on the domestic politics of the Iraq war. After receiving a lift last month in the defeat of Democratic efforts to link war finances to Iraq withdrawal dates, the White House acknowledged Friday that it could not renominate Mr. Bushâ€™s chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Peter Pace, because of expected opposition on Capitol Hill.
For a president whose muscular assertions of executive authority had overshadowed Congress for years, it was a striking indicator of how the balance of power in Washington has shifted away from him.