I suppose there is a certain fascination to watching a slow-motion train wreck, and all the more so if it is just a movie so no one is actually getting killed. I am starting to think this is a good metaphor for the Bush Administration's Social Security campaign.
As the polls keep showing Bush heading due south on this issue at an increasing clip, he just pours more and more coal into the boiler (if I may continue the metaphor). His redoubled barnstorming tour, 60 rallies in 60 days, now includes Cheney (why don't I think the Democrats are trembling over this?) as well as the rapidly melting Treasury Secretary Snow.
Bush must be thinking: why not. He has never lost a single U.S. domestic political fight of any significance, so why not keep going with the tried and true, especially with fellow zealots telling him that this will be a big-time legacy, will eviscerate the Democrats forever, and so forth.
As someone noted in some other blog somewhere (I would attribute if I remembered where), the guy is basically a one-trick pony. All he knows how to do is make big gambles and pull out all the stakes trying to pull them off. Ex-alcoholics are prone to risky behavior, I gather, although in this case I assume he is being urged on by various non-ex-alcoholic advisors.
One reason Bush's tactical approach may be bad for him over the long run is that if you keep on slamming down your chips and doubling your bets, at some point you are likely to lose, simply by the law of averages.
But another aspect of his problem comes to mind as well. I am reluctant to mention the name Hitler here, because, as much as I despise Bush, I recognize that the comparison is out of line. But I mean it as a typology of tactical approaches, not as a moral comparison. One could favor super-aggressive tactics and be a good guy, I suppose, although I tend to think it is associated with a bullying temperament that probably correlates with being vile.
Anyway, what I mean is this. Hitler just kept on bulling forward, making big aggressive moves, daring others to stand up to him rather than back down, etc. In a way this is how Bush does politics.
This approach can lead to stunning successes, as it did for Hitler through his run of astonishing victories from his taking over Germany through the Sudetenland and right through 1940. But while the unexpected (because unusual) boldness and daring of this approach can lead to stunning successes, it has a couple of problems. First, it is not always the optimal approach. One-trick ponies can't adapt to other tactics that may be more suited to a given problem. Second, people start to catch on to the bully, and it affects their reactions. Once enough of them realize the degree to which you are aggressive and insatiable, they may start treating you differently, to your detriment. Indeed, the earlier surprise factor may have been the main reason it ever worked. Sticking to 2005, since the historical analogy is clear enough, Democrats who Bush needs this time have learned that you can't make deals with him.
Anyway, the fact that Bush has been so successful politically so far does not rule out his experiencing really big political failures from hereon in. Indeed, the same tactics and qualities that brought him the successes may also start to drag him down. Although the downside for him is merely political failure, not a bullet in a bunker.