According to the Washington Post, President Bush is "suddenly finds himself struggling to reclaim his swagger":
Most of all, White House aides want to reestablish Bush's swagger -- the projection of competence and confidence in the White House that has carried the administration through tough times since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
Bush likes to say his job is to make tough decisions and leave the hand-wringing for historians and pundits. He almost never entertains public doubt, which is part of the White House design to build a more powerful presidency...
He projects this in nonverbal ways as well, the arms-swinging gait of his walk, the glint in his glare, the college boy grin that flashes even in sober moments. Some advisers consider this supreme self-confidence a secret to Bush's success enacting his first-term agenda and winning reelection in a tough political climate. It reinforced Bush's image as a decisive leader, which was an important attribute in an election colored by the threat of terrorism, and helped calm congressional Republicans who disagreed with some of the president's ideas but were won over by the force of his style.
The confidence was contagious, with White House officials and Republicans in Congress as certain as the president himself in what Bush was doing. But over the course of six months, a growing number of Republicans inside and out of the White House have noticed an administration less sure-footed and slower to react to the political environment surrounding them.
I'll tell you where the swagger went -- out the window when Bush's approval ratings hit the low 40s. As I wrote, "Many of the tactics that worked when Bush was at 60 or 70 in the polls are a flop at 38 or 41." From late 2001 to early 2004, Bush could swagger around and everyone, including the media, would eventually fall into line due to his high approval ratings. But now he doesn't scare anyone except Republicans who fear losing their seats in 2006 and 2008.
I believe that much of what happens in Washington is driven by the president's approval ratings, which are -- in turn -- largely driven by the state of the economy or major foreign policy events like 9/11. But instead of looking at those factors, we tell stories about swagger and charisma and political strategies, just as we do when we study presidential races. It's mostly nonsense. Bush could have done almost anything after 9/11 and still had high approval ratings (in fact, he did -- remember the school in Florida?). Bill Clinton would have probably won in 1996 even if Dick Morris hadn't run his famous 1995 outside-the-Beltway ads. Etc. But since the press and the strategists want to believe that they are all powerful, they ignore political scientists and listen to each other instead.