Have the Republicans given up on George Bush (search)?

I think there is a reasonable case to be made that the president is done. He's a lame duck. He's a caretaker until the country elects somebody else.

I saw one of the grandees of the Sunday morning political talk show business Thursday saying Bush has a bunch of bad news this week, and next week he can start his second term fresh.

Wow. And this particular grandee is a liberal.

Maybe he's right. But I think W. has been hurt and hurt bad.

I've said this before, so I'll repeat it without belaboring it.

Bush should never have stopped talking about the war. Even after the election, he should have kept it up. Instead, he started talking Social Security and that rated lower than a White Sox World Series.

When he was talking about retirement, the Dems went on complaining about the war and peeled off a bunch of Bush's war support.

Then there were the hurricanes named Katrina, Rita, Harriet and Karl. All bad stuff.

Maybe it does end this week with Friday's indictments of whoever.

But maybe it doesn't. Maybe the political enemies have the chance to get in close now and really land some blows.

If Karl Rove (search) is gone all the time meeting with his defense team, maybe Bush is left exposed.

And the real question is, which Republican candidates in '06 are going to want a campaign appearance with the president?

Frankly, I can't think of any. I could be wrong but it seems to me the Republicans all want daylight between them and the president on something: the war, gas prices, drug benefits. Something.

I'm also having a hard time imagining someone running for the Republican nomination for president by standing next to George W. Bush and saying, "I'm going to continue the Bush era. I stand with the president on the conduct of the war in Iraq. I am for the things he was for."

If the president is going to be president, he has to reassert control over the political agenda and give Republicans a good reason to be back on his side — really on his side.

That's My Word.

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