The obvious mortal danger of a nuclear North Korea gives President Bush a chance to control center stage in the days leading up to the election - a chance to lead and an opportunity to shine.
If he can lead a global diplomatic protest, backed by tough economic sanctions particularly from China, he will show us why he deserves to be empowered during the final two years of his presidency.
After the failure of the Bay of Pigs invasion and his inability to pass his legislative program, President John Kennedy faced the prospect of serious reversals in the 1962 congressional elections. But his determined and successful efforts in October of that year at keeping missiles out of Cuba turned national attitudes around and held his midterm losses to a minimum. The history of October 2006 could proceed in a parallel direction.
Bush may not be able to pull it off. But at least he is now the master of his own fate. He doesn't have to sit passively on the sidelines any longer and watch House Speaker Dennis Hastert's lack of vigilance, former House Majority Leader Tom Delay's lack of ethics and former Rep. Mark Foley's lack maturity and morality determine his political fate.
The ball is in Bush's court and it is up to him to save his congressional majority. Right now, if he can do what is good for the nation and for the world, he'll do what he needs to do to keep power in Congress.
All other issues pale by comparison with that of a nuclear North Korea, one whose missiles could attack Tokyo, or for that matter, Bejing. Indeed, its growing mastery of missile technology might even allow this criminal regime to threaten the United States itself with attack.
Congressional pages, junkets or lobbyist scandals fade against this prospect.
Bush has the tools to succeed if he uses them properly. North Korea is totally dependent on China for food and fuel. For its part, China is worried about instability, which would affect its three leading trading partners: the United States, Japan and South Korea. And Bejing will likely be even more concerned that North Korea's nuclear arsenal will kindle an arms race in the region that would lead to a Japanese or a South Korean atomic capability.
Can Bush mobilize this global focus into effective action? Can he reverse a nuclear North Korea? We'll see. But at least he has the ability to control his own political destiny.