Public political moods are cyclical. My guess is that last week -- with its indictment of Scooter Libby and Harriet Miers' withdrawal of her consideration for the Supreme Court -- was probably the nadir of the Bush presidency. From here, the White House may be about to enjoy the American people's instinct to rally around a beleaguered president when they think attacks on him have crossed over to the gratuitous.
A classic example of this phenomenon was the decision in 1998 by special prosecutor Ken Starr to make public his report on alleged misdeeds and possible crimes by then-President Clinton in the events leading up to Clinton's impeachment.
Top Republican leaders felt that by releasing the Starr Report's details, including fairly graphic descriptions of alleged sexual misconduct, Clinton's polling numbers would plummet and within a week he would be asked to resign by top Democratic leaders. (Let me assure you this scenario is fact, not speculation.)
The opposite happened. The public viewed the GOP as going too far in hunting for Clinton's hide. Most people sympathized with Clinton and subsequently awarded him with amazingly high approval ratings.
Did he deserve that new support of the people? Probably not. But that's the way it is in the game of politics and the people.
That brings us back to the Democrats' parliamentary temper tantrum this week. It was silly, pointless and transparently a cheap shot.
Worse for the Democrats, they may now have to rethink how stridently they should oppose Samuel Alito for the Supreme Court. They have to consider that they now may be seen as rock-throwers more concerned with poking around in the ashes of the past than in lighting fires for the future.
And President Bush may be the beneficiary. Just when he needs it most.
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