Earlier this year, I argued on this page that to lead effectively, contemporary presidents need support from federal courts and Congress, the steady allegiance of the public, and accordance with contemporary public opinion about the proper size and scope of government. Mr. Bush had argued for a scaled-back government, yet Katrina undermined that argument. Fairly or not, he became the focal point for public dissatisfaction with the Katrina response, and his image as a competent and reliable manager collapsed. Then, in October, the special counsel appointed to investigate the possible outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame indicted Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice. The president lost the admiration and confidence of most of the country — he never got it back.