But Bush is heading into that perilous period after an Election Day that pried his party's grip from Capitol Hill, in voting widely seen as a rebuke of him and his leadership, particularly on Iraq.
That makes his domestic wish list _ such as adding private accounts to Social Security and permanently extending all tax cuts passed during his administration _ not much more than a fantasy, especially for a president who largely has ignored the same Democrats who now will control the legislative agenda.
Add to that the prospect of Democratic investigations into missteps in the war, treatment of terrorism detainees and Bush's expansion of executive power, and his next two years could be a headache.
Democrats, too, have much to lose. If seen as unproductive or too obstructionist, they risk losing their majority _ a very slim one in the Senate _ in two years. How they govern also could impact the party's chances in the wide-open race for the White House in 2008.
The Dems have an opportunity to act reasonably and to become a party more of Heath Shulers than of Nancy Pelosis. You think they'll do it? I doubt it. The Nutroots won't let them, and the Heath Shulers are gonna pay the price in two years.