Mr. President, is this how it ends?

After the collapse of the immigration bill last night, I could only really think of the President and his legacy. Immigration reform has been something that he could do that would leave behind something lasting, something permanent, something that as he traveled around the nation in his post-Presidential years he could look on with joy and pride. But even now that looks doubtful, and with that, it is increasingly likely that he will go down in history as one of the worst leaders our nation has ever had.

Consider what we will be discussing and writing about for posterity: a drop in the standard of living for average Americans; the creation of structural budget deficits coming right before the fiscal time bomb of the retirement of the boomers; a decline in our rates of broadband penetration relative to the rest of the world; more without health insurance, in poverty and with dangerous levels of household debt; rising crimes rates; an education reform approach underfunded by tens of billions of dollars; a weakening of our support for trade liberalization; a shifting of the tax burden from the wealthy to the middle class; an era of what has been perhaps unmatched corruption, lying and betrayal of the public trust; a weakening of our long-cherished civil liberties, including the suspension of habeas corpus for non US citizens; the publicly sanctioned demonization of Hispanics, the fastest growing part of the American family; and of course there is the great one, Iraq, and our incredible tossing away of the opportunity to remake the world in a way true to our values after 9/11 when the whole world was with us.

What will also be discussed are not just the mistakes, but the challenges not met. The lack of action on the decline of the middle class, on climate change, on energy independence, on college tuition costs; on giving our workers and kids 21st century skills; on offering a plan to give more people health insurance and good and affordable care; on Darfur. To paraphrase Tom Friedman this was not only a disappointing age for what was done, but also disappointing in the lack of imagination shown by our leaders in finding ways to solve the tough emerging challenges facing our nation and the world.

So, Mr. President, this morning we add one more item to this terrible legacy - the inability to fix our broken immigration system.

Somehow I thought that given the coming judgment of history, Mr. Bush would rise, drag his reluctant Party to the table, and end his time here with a powerful and moral act - bringing these 12 million out of the shadows - that would make it much more difficult for history to break against him. But this morning, even on an issue he believes in so deeply, he couldn't get it done, and we are now one more day closer to having his time here in Washington be judged as an extraordinary failure of leadership, character, judgment and governance.

Perhaps things will change in the coming weeks, and the President and the reluctant Republicans will wake from their slumber and find common ground with the Democrats. I hope so, and we at NDN will continue to work as if something good can come from the disappointing outcome last night on the floor of the Senate.