BUSH AND THE PEOPLE….Garance Franke-Ruta speculates today that George Bush has lost touch with the American public, a notion that seems pretty plausible to me. In fact, I’m not sure he was ever really in touch aside from his hawkish response to 9/11. His success on that front, however, convinced him that he could persuade the electorate of anything ? even Social Security privatization ? and he hasn’t quite figured out yet that he can’t.

For a different take on this issue, check out Janet Hook’s article in today’s LA Times about how seriously Bush takes Social Security. He takes it so seriously that he’s even willing to sit down and listen to other people about it! Can you imagine?

And then this:

Invariably, when Bush talks to Republicans about Social Security, he sends an important political message: He’s not going to give up this fight any time soon.

“He gives you a lot of confidence he’s not going to leave you out on a limb,” said Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), who rode with Bush on Air Force One to the senator’s home state last week. “He’s going to stick with this issue….Until the last day in office he’s going to keep doing this.”

Out of all the possible issues to choose as a centerpiece of his second term, Bush chose Social Security, a fairly moderate and non-urgent problem that’s almost certain to backfire on him. Why? It’s a real mystery.