15 MONTHS TO GO….How the mighty have fallen: In the Telegraph’s list of America’s most influential conservatives, George Bush ranks a meager 21st, barely higher than Christopher Hitchens. Here’s the explanation:

The short answer: the list is about the future rather than the past….we believe Bush will fade into relative obscurity after 2009.

The announcement of the departure of Karen Hughes from the Bush administration yesterday was laden with symbolism. She and Karl Rove represented a collective alter ego for Bush before 2000 and in the early days of his presidency. Now they are gone, along with Dan Bartlett, Don Evans, Alberto Gonzales, Joe Allbaugh and the rest of the Texas posse that rode into town. Bush is alone and isolated.

….In just over three months, Republicans will choose a presidential nominee who will become the de facto leader of the party and, by extension, of US conservatism. In a bid to attract centrist voters, he — whether it be Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, John McCain or Fred Thompson — will rush to distance himself from Bush.

By this time next year, many American conservatives may be asking: “George W. who?”

Sic transit etc. Two comments, though. First, it couldn’t happen to a more deserving guy. Second, don’t let conservatives get away with “distancing” themselves from Bush. They all loved him when he was riding high, and they’d love him still if he weren’t polling in Richard Nixon territory. But his lousy numbers are mostly because he’s stuck with policies that conservatives all hailed as visionary a mere couple of years ago. So here’s the new Pottery Barn rule: they broke him, they bought him. Like it or not, he’s your baby.