Bush is, as you most likely realize, polling very poorly in terms of the standard approval rating polls. The point of this post is not to mull over these low numbers (around 35%?!), but to ask for a reality check. There are many ways to interpret such numbers, but the most common way (on the left, right now, at least) is to see this as a "weakened" presidency.
I won't deny he's "weakened" in some sense, but it's a sense far less potent than supposed. For example, I've heard people say, "don't worry, we won't attack Iran, not with approval numbers like this". As far as I know there is nothing in the Constitution about approval polls. The American people seem to think the public gets what it wants if only it's together enough to say what it thinks. How naive that seems to me.
For example, in the case of Iran, the president can bomb the hell out of it, he can, frankly, send in ground troops too, covert ops may already be there according to many reports the last few years. He needs congress to declare war, but he can do all that without declaring war. We forget, for a politician to yeild to particular interpretations of poll numbers is a voluntary thing. And it's also a matter of interpretation. To Rove a low approval might just as likely itself be a reason to go to war as to not go, that depends on the interpretation of approval... is it something you need in order to act, or something you act in order to get? I do know the actual powers of the president has nothing to do with approval, they are outlined in the Constitution and other federal law.
Do you see what I'm saying? Does anyone agree that low approval ratings are political theater, one element, to be sure, but not nearly as important, NOR as POWERFUL, as people seem to automatically suppose?
Nor as powerful, especially that.