With an approval rating stuck in the 30s, President Bush no longer holds many political cards. But he still has one ace in the form of his veto pen. That's a substantial weapon--as President Bill Clinton showed against the Republican Congress in 1996 and Bush is showing against the Democratic Congress now.
Because he holds it, he is forcing Democrats to back down on their quest for an end to the Iraq war, as well as on their attempts to increase domestic spending and raise taxes on targeted constituencies. Their House and Senate majorities are too small to override him, and everyone in Washington knows it.
Bush today wisely used temperate language to press Congress to settle the budget impasse on his terms; doing so means it is less likely he will be blamed for intransigence in the standoff. But it will end on something very close to his terms nonetheless.
Questions? Comments? Write to email@example.com.