The bailout bill’s failure to pass the House—due in large part to defectors from his own party—demonstrates President Bush’s flagging influence in Washington, observes the Washington Post. Bush’s “biggest legislative defeat” as president, it highlighted his tendency to rely on alarmist rhetoric—repeated dire warnings to Congress that failure to pass the measure would be catastrophic—while delegating leadership to cabinet members.
Some Republicans slammed Bush for stepping into the bailout fray too late, leaving too much power and lobbying responsibility in the hands of Henry Paulson, whose plan was widely derided as a power-grab, and who lawmakers feel is politically tone-deaf. Others felt Bush “did what he could” but was hampered by lame-duck status. “He can say 'trust my words,' but they are not going to trust him when they are facing voters who are against him” in November, says a GOP consultant.