These professional hit men (and women), along with their ideological cousins in the Democratic leadership, have been hammering him mercilessly since campaign 2000. Even if he wasn't experiencing difficulties otherwise, it would be a miracle if he could sustain high approval ratings under such a relentless assault.
But they don't see it that way. To them, he's the enemy, and he must be taken out. And they're doing everything they can to make that happen, including rigging the polls against him by oversampling Democrats, and including nonvoters along with voters, to make him appear even less popular than he apparently is. They're visibly salivating at his daily emasculation before our very eyes.
MSNBC's Chris Matthews could hardly contain himself as he pointed out Bush's approval ratings were down to 29 percent. "How do you explain that?" asked the "Hardball" host. "Why, people like him less than they did when they reelected him by a majority vote in November 2004."
Unhappily for the president's bloodthirsty pursuers, the Constitution provides that Bush will remain in office -- absent impeachment or other extraordinary reasons -- until his second term expires. But all is not lost. If they can publicly obsess enough over his record low popularity numbers, they'll have a better chance of achieving indirectly what they've been impotent to pull off directly: a divestment of his power.
You will recall that after exhausting all legal avenues to invalidate his electoral victory in 2000, they "encouraged" him to relinquish his power voluntarily. They first insisted the questionable election results meant he had no mandate and that he must reach out to Democrats.
They demanded he exhibit a new tone of bipartisanship and collegiality, which simply meant that he was to capitulate to their demands. When he accommodated them on several fronts, they slapped him down like a red-headed stepchild, then complained -- in a manner that would have made the "Twilight Zone's" Rod Serling well up with pride -- that he was the one demonstrating partisanship.
They proceeded to browbeat him for the next four years, accusing him of unthinkable acts, such as lying to get us into war to serve his own personal, political or financial motives, whichever fit their particular line at the time. When he defeated John Kerry in 2004, they once again resurrected the "no mandate" mantra, saying his narrow victory meant he had less authority -- never mind that the Constitution confers every bit as much power on a narrowly elected president as a landslide victor.
When he wouldn't make them co-presidents, they were hardly deterred, continuing to scandalize his every word and deed, and it gets worse every day. (They're about to have an orgy over the newly released Katrina video.)
Now they think they've finally hit pay dirt, with both Bush and the even more reviled Dick Cheney on the ropes. And what novel inference do you suppose the would-be co-presidents have drawn from this? Aha, you guessed it. He has no mandate.
So there you have it. No matter what, he has no mandate. He stole the election in 2000, so he had no mandate. He almost lost the election in 2004, so he had no mandate. And, though he won in 2004, his poor approval ratings today mean he has no mandate. His presidency is illegitimate ab initio -- and he needs to just give it up.
But he's not cooperating. He's still president, and he's still exerting his executive authority. What audacity! Can't someone tell this guy he's not really president -- I mean, he doesn't have a mandate -- as you know, the kind of clear mandate his endearing opponents have?
The ironic thing about all this is that the Democrats picked the wrong guy to intimidate with arguments about marginal election victories and low poll numbers. Unlike their idol Bill Clinton, President Bush does not govern by the polls.
The further irony is that there is most likely an inverse relationship between a president governing by the polls and establishing a long-term legacy. Clinton always governed by the polls while craving a positive historic legacy. He achieved short-term gratification, but it's doubtful he'll ever rise above the stained dress in the legacy department.
The co-presidents can talk until they're blue in the face about mandates and scandalmonger themselves silly, but President Bush is not going anywhere, until 2008, which brings to mind one more irony. After having invested so much negative capital in demonizing him all these years, they won't be able to capitalize on any of it in 2008, because neither he nor Cheney will be running. But please don't tell them.