A president who two years ago boasted of his political capital began the last two years of his presidency on Monday night stripped of his Republican congressional majorities and forced to ask new Democratic leaders “to work through our differences.”

But on the issue most responsible for the erosion of his power, the war in Iraq, President Bush came looking not for advice and counsel but for a rubber stamp for his decision to escalate US involvement with 20,000 troops.

Bush’s flat rejection of the proposals of the Baker-Hamilton panel must have left members of Congress shaking their heads at the proposal in his State of the Union address for a new special advisory council on the war on terror, made up of congressional leaders from both parties.

The president’s best chance to find common ground with Democrats in creating a legislative legacy for himself is in immigration reform. His restatement of his support for both more secure borders and a system for allowing in temporary foreign workers could form a basis for a compromise that will keep alive the “great tradition of the melting pot that welcomes and assimilates new arrivals.” On domestic policy, the president’s words were conciliatory. But he is still going it alone in Iraq, losing even many in his own party. — The Boston Globe