A look at what makes Bush tick that should have all of us worried. The only thing Washington loves less than a lame-duck president is a completely unpredictable lame-duck president. They are scared that he could do anything, without real consultation. The Libby decision was made just like the decision to author-ise torture: it was done outside the normal channels of government, blindsiding key aides, and shocking the extablishment. If he did this once-and he has done it many times-he could do it again. And so, for all his failure and polling dive, he retains the capacity for surprised. Which is the capacity for relevance.
This is all he's got left. The mighty power of the presidency, a predilection for sudden action, and absolutely nothing to lose. This lame duck, in other words, could quack or fly without warning. And Washington, for all its increasingly open contempt for him, is rattled by the possibility. They don't know what's coming, but they know they'll have to adjust.
In this, perhaps for the first time, even Republicans are having a familiar experience. They now know what it's like to be a European with this president. And they are longing for it to be over. There have been previous presidents who had their unpredictable side-Andrew Jackson, Teddy Roosevelt, and Ronald Reagan to some degree. But you at least had the idea that they knew what they were doing the rest of the time. Bush has always been known as a man of action, and while that can be a useful quality in a president, it also helps if you are able to take a step back and think about the consequences of your actions. Bush has never seemed to learn how to do that.