Monday, September 12, 2005

Under Siege and Over a Barrel

[[P O L L S]] * After four and a half years, George W. Bush may finally have fulfilled his famous promise to be “a uniter, not a divider.” Polls suggest that he has certainly united Americans--even conservatives--against him. On top of last week’s AP-Ipsos poll, which showed the prez with a dismal 39 percent job approval rating, and the latest Newsweek survey, which gave him a still worse 38 percent, comes a new Time magazine poll that, while its numbers don’t quite match those other two assessments, nonetheless shows Bush with “his lowest [overall approval] mark since taking office” in January 2001. Time’s questioning finds that only 42 percent of Americans approve of Bush’s presidential performance, while a majority--52 percent--disapprove.

Of Democrats, just 13 percent give the prez high marks (compared with 25 percent last January), while Independents are a tad more generous--36 percent approve of his performance (compared with 46 percent in January 2005). What’s most revealing, though--and for the White House, most disturbing--is what the members of Bush’s own party think of their man in the Oval Office. Last January, 91 percent of Republicans said they liked what Bush was doing; this latest poll finds him having lost a full 10 percent of that support. The Time survey also shows Bush’s numbers down when it comes to the situation in Iraq (39 percent approve of his performance, 57 percent disapprove) and the economy (40 percent approve, 55 percent disapprove), but the country remains pretty evenly split on the prez’s handling of the general “war on terror” (46 percent approve, 48 percent disapprove). Asked how much they think Bush has done to restrain skyrocketing gas prices, 27 percent answered “a great deal/some,” while 69 percent said “not much/nothing.” Asked to assign blame for what went wrong with Hurricane Katrina relief efforts, 73 percent place “a great deal or some” on state and local officials; however, 61 percent said Bush bore “a great deal or some” responsibility for the too little, too late response.

By the way, that 42 percent approval figure for Bush matches the findings in a fresh Washington Post-ABC News poll. The Post notes that this rating is “ the lowest of his presidency”--in this survey, anyway--“and down three points since Hurricane Katrina savaged the Gulf Coast two weeks ago. Fifty-seven percent disapprove of Bush’s performance, a double-digit increase since January.” Another 54 percent of respondents to this survey dislike the way the prez has handled the hurricane aftermath. Again, the Post-ABC poll highlights an erosion of support for Bush within his own party. “The president’s overall approval rating among Republicans,” the paper explains, “has declined from 91 percent in January to 78 percent in the latest poll. Overall, barely half the country now characterize Bush as a ‘strong leader’--down 12 points since May of last year. And the percent who say he can be ‘trusted in a crisis’ likewise has fallen from 60 percent to 49 percent now.” Summing up its findings, the Post says they portray “an increasingly unpopular president who is under siege at home and abroad. [The poll] also suggests that the public is growing impatient with an administration that once seemed so sure-footed but now seems unable to deal effectively with crises at home and abroad.”

How do you think consigliere Karl Rove’s blood pressure is doing right about now?

ADDENDUM: A friend passed along what he thought was a newfound Internet gem. I already knew about this, but it appears that not everyone does. Go to Google, type in the word “failure,” hit the “I’m Feeling Lucky” button, and see what happens.

READ MORE:The GOP Finds the Silver Lining in Death and Destruction,” by Arianna Huffington (The Huffington Post); “The Bush White House Has Presided Over Three National Debacles,” by Eric Margolis (Toronto Sun); “‘Incredible’ Shrinking Presidency,” by Mel Goodman (U.S. Tour of Duty); “A Storm-Tossed Boss,” by Howard Fineman (Newsweek); “Gulf Coast Isn’t the Only Thing Left in Tatters; Bush’s Status With Blacks Takes Hit,” by Elisabeth Bumiller (The New York Times); “Let’s Make Sure President Bush Doesn’t Survive Katrina,” by Rob McKay (The Huffington Post); “On Katrina, Global Warming,” by Al Gore (Common Dreams).

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