The invisible man

THE INVISIBLE MAN…. It’s hardly a secret that George W. Bush is the least popular president in generations. It’s also pretty obvious that John McCain has developed an acute allergy to the president.

But it is kind of amusing to look back at the remarks the two men, standing side by side, made at the White House in March. McCain vowed, in a grammatically clumsy sentence, “I intend to have as much possible campaigning events together” with Bush. McCain went on to say, “I hope that the president will find time from his busy schedule to be out on the campaign trail with me,” adding that he would “look forward” to joint campaign events. “I will be glad to have the president with me, in keeping with his schedule, in any part of America,” McCain concluded.

Nearly seven months later, how’s that working out?

It’s the week before Election Day. Do you know where your president is? Probably not, and that is by design. […]

With Mr. Bush’s job approval ratings at historic lows, political analysts have long said Republican candidates simply do not want to be seen with him. But now, with the election just days away, it seems that Republican candidates do not want Mr. Bush to be seen, period.

“One of McCain’s biggest challenges has been how to deal with Bush, and he never quite got it right,” said Scott Reed, a Republican strategist who ran Bob Dole’s 1996 presidential campaign. “Now, the best thing is silence.”

So the president has temporarily dropped out of sight. Until recently, Mr. Bush was giving talks about the battered economy on nearly a daily basis, prompting some Republicans to grumble privately that so much presidential face time was hurting their election chances. This week, Mr. Bush stepped back, holding just four public events, none with real policy implications.

When can we expect those joint campaign events that McCain was “looking forward” to?