With about 15 months left in his presidency, George W. Bush has little time left to:
- Manage the war in Iraq beyond years of stubborn policy and now rattling sabers over Iran.
- Prove he is relevant beyond the use of his veto pen and arrogance toward Congress.
- Save vulnerable Republicans facing the voters next year when their necks are on the line and his isn't.
The first point is almost moot. Bush shows no signs of changing course in Iraq beyond a mostly symbolic drawdown of troops late this year or early in 2008.
Even with that withdrawal, Bush will leave his successor with a shattered government in Baghdad, if you want to call it a government. Meanwhile, the president utters the words "World War III" while talking about Iran's nuclear aims.
Bush can use the veto pen effectively, as he demonstrated with the SCHIP bill for more medical care for children. However, that legislation had some solid GOP support, and those lawmakers must worry about more vetoes of popular bills.
Bush vows to veto any spending bill of a dollar more than he requests. Yet he spends like a drunken sailor on Iraq and Afghanistan without a moment's thought. No problem on paying for it—just print more money and let future generations worry about it.
On saving the skins of vulnerable Republicans in Congress and the states, any president with a current 24 percent approval rating is hardly a major player.
Republicans running for re-election or challenging a Democrat may want Air Force One to fly in for a quickie fundraiser. Bush and his even darker sidekick, Dick Cheney, can raise money for them.
But I'll wager their two names will rarely cross the lips of those GOP-ers who recognize Bush-Cheney will be of little help. In fact, they will be a drag on them.