As Agenda Falters, Bush Tries a More Personal Approach in Dealing With Congress

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Presidents have historically used the social powers of the office to build goodwill at the Capitol. Lyndon B. Johnson was a master at it; Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton were especially good. But Mr. Bush, with his early-to-bed, early-to-rise habits, has shown little interest in the social networking that characterizes so much of Washington political life, said James A. Thurber, director of the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies at American University.

"If you had to evaluate presidents, 1 to 10, and Johnson is a 10, this president is a 1," Professor Thurber said. "The state of his presidency vis-à-vis the Congress is bad not only because he's down in the polls. It's not only bad because of the war and the Katrina mess. It's bad because he never reaches out. He's not that kind of guy. He goes bicycle riding with the Secret Service rather than bringing people together."

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