One of the roles for the presidency is as National Leader.
Americans ask their presidents to do more than govern; they expect them to lead. No aspect of the chief executive's job is more important than articulating the nation's principles, taking on new challenges, providing comfort and inspiration in times of crisis, and, in Abraham Lincoln's words, appealing to "the better angels of our nature."
In times of crisis, we look to the presidency. The problem with President Bush is that he has squandered the currency of the highest office in the land in a Nixonian grab for power for his party. So now, as the economy tumbles down, his plan for relief is being greeted with a wall of skepticism. Even assuming the plan is a good plan (and it doesn't look like that), the president faces immediate skepticism because he's deceived us so much in the past. It is not healthy for the republic to have a president with such weak credibility.
When the president makes a statement or proposes an initiative, we should be in the kind of place nationally where even if he is from the opposite party his idea becomes worth consideration. George Bush gave that up for vanity of the worst sort.