Saturday, September 10, 2005

Now Batting in the 30s

[[P O L L S]] * George W. Bush’s famous disregard for polls is being tested today, as two different surveys show his approval ratings sinking beneath 40 percent. A new AP-Ipsos poll pegs the prez’s favor among Americans at only 39 percent--the first time his approval has fallen below 40 percent in the poll, according to the Associated Press. Just over half of respondents--52 percent--also say they disapprove of how Bush has dealt with the fallout from Hurricane Katrina. And 65 percent now say the United States is headed down “the wrong track”; only 59 percent said the same a month ago.

A still more dire assessment comes from a Newsweek poll, to be published in the magazine on Monday. That study shows Bush with only a 38 percent approval rating--“the lowest ever” in Newsweek’s polling, according to a report in The Raw Story. Other highlights from the same survey:
  • A 52 percent majority of Americans say they don’t trust Bush to make correct decisions during a domestic crisis; 42 percent say they do.
  • The same breakdown is found when people are asked whether they trust Bush to make the right decision during an international crisis: 52 percent say “no,” 42 percent answer “yes.”
  • Asked whether they’re satisfied with the way things are currently going in the United States, 66 percent say they are unsatisfied, compared with 28 percent who are satisfied. This is another record low for the Newsweek poll.
  • Finally, Raw Story reports that “57 percent of Americans say the slow response in New Orleans has caused them to lose confidence in the government to deal with another major natural disaster, 41 percent say it has not; 47 percent say it has made them lose confidence in government to prevent another 9/11-type attack, [while] half (50 percent) say it has not.”

And there may be worse in store for America’s “CEO President,” as a consequence of his recent actions. Writing in The Huffington Post, political analyst and Congressional Quarterly columnist Craig Crawford contends that

Hurricane Katrina exposed to the bone what many consider George Bush’s true persona. We’ve seen it all in the past two weeks: his patrician instincts, the seemingly disingenuous posturing and a stubborn refusal to fully take responsibility for what goes wrong. ...

The president’s handling of this disaster reveals a part of his nature that explains so much more than the arguably preventable extent of Katrina’s unprecedented wreckage. It explains such things as his refusal to back down on Social Security revisions that even his own party leaders don’t want anymore. It explains how the “compassionate conservative” proclamation of his first presidential campaign translated into little of significance, especially for the urban poor. And it explains why he hasn’t gone to one funeral for an American soldier killed in Iraq.

In short, rising numbers of Americans perceive Bush as someone who thinks he’s always right, who believes his critics are know-nothing wimps, and who considers the little people as mere tools for the rich and powerful to do what he considers right for America.

Charlie Cook, editor of The Cook Political Report sees the issue of competency as it has been highlighted during the Katrina crisis--with FEMA chief Michael Brown finally being removed on Friday as manager of hurricane recovery efforts--possibly affecting the 2006 midterm elections, to the benefit of Democrats. That trend is already evident in the Newsweek poll mentioned earlier. Only 38 percent of registered voters in the survey say they would vote for a Republican for Congress if the elections were held today, while 50 percent say they’d mark their ballots for a Democrat.

ADDENDUM I: Turns out that the British are even more disappointed with Bush, when it comes to his Katrina-related endeavors, than are Americans. A poll appearing in tomorrow’s Sunday Times finds 86 percent of Britons saying that the prez’s handling of this crisis was “bad” or “very bad,” and 63 percent are convinced that the response would have been “speedier and more effective” had most of the victims been white and middle-class. The Times survey reveals, too, just how profoundly hostile Brits are toward the U.S. chief exec. Asked whether Bush is “one of the worst presidents America has ever had,” 57 percent agree and only 23 percent disagree. By a 66 percent to 18 percent margin, they also think the prez is “not trustworthy.” And 63 percent of poll respondents believe the Katrina aftermath and the Iraq war violence show that the United States is “losing the ability to organise and run things.”

ADDENDUM II: First, it was the sidelining of embattled FEMA honcho Michael Brown. Now, under the pressure of a lawsuit brought by cable-TV network CNN, the Bush administration is scrapping its earlier proposal to prohibit news media from following government efforts to retrieve the bodies of people killed in Hurricane Katrina. If the White House continues to fold like this in the face of public and journalistic criticism, it might lose its merit badge for arrogance ...

READ MORE:How Bush Blew It,” by Evan Thomas (Newsweek); “Hindsight: A User’s Guide,” by Michael Kinsley (The Washington Post); “Hack of a Job,” by Bruce Reed (Slate); “Bush Eats Baby, Republicans Defend President,” by Bob Cesca (The Huffington Post); “Will Bush Wriggle Out of This One?,” by Robert Kuttner (The Boston Globe); “Conservative Pundits Reluctant to Criticize Bush’s Katrina Response,” by Dave Astor (Editor & Publisher); “George W. Bush Still Rocks!,” by Mark Morford (San Francisco Chronicle); “A Possible Sea Change on Federal Spending,” by Dick Polman (The Philadelphia Inquirer).

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