Since November's election, the victors have managed to be on the wrong side of public opinion on one issue after another: the economy, Social Security privatization, Terri Schiavo, Tom DeLay. By large margins, Americans say that the country is headed in the wrong direction, and Mr. Bush is the least popular second-term president on record.
What's going on? Actually, it's quite simple: Mr. Bush and his party talk only to their base - corporate interests and the religious right - and are oblivious to everyone else's concerns.
The administration's upbeat view of the economy is a case in point. Corporate interests are doing very well. As a recent report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities points out, over the last three years profits grew at an annual rate of 14.5 percent after inflation, the fastest growth since World War II.
The story is very different for the great majority of Americans, who live off their wages, not dividends or capital gains, and aren't doing well at all. Over the past three years, wage and salary income grew less than in any other postwar recovery - less than a tenth as fast as profits. But wage-earning Americans aren't part of the base.
It's a classic case of the rich getting richer while the rest of the country languishes, or a reverse Robin Hood effect, if you will, as the rich continue to take from the rest of us. Of course, this is ultimately unsustainable, but by the time the country wakes up the damage might be irreparable.