Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Hitting the Highs of the Lows

It’s common to say of second-term presidents that they have already run their final political races. They can’t run for third terms, and they’re unlikely to run for lesser positions. But George W. Bush may still be in the midst of his last competition--one that he and his supporters likely hope he’ll lose.

We’ve noted periodically just how unpopular Bush has become lately (see here and here). However, The Washington Post--the editorial page of which continues to defend the prez’s abuses of power--has been less willing to concede the multiple failures of the current Oval Office occupant. Until now.

Noting Bush’s 65 percent disapproval rating in the latest Washington Post/ABC News survey, reporter Peter Baker writes today that “In polls conducted by The Post or Gallup going back to 1938, only twice has a president exceeded that level of public animosity--Harry S. Truman, who hit 67 percent during the Korean War, and Richard M. Nixon, who hit 66 percent four days before resigning.” Baker adds: “George H.W. Bush came close before losing his bid for reelection in 1992, with 64 percent disapproval.
The current president, though, has endured bad numbers longer than Nixon or his father did and longer than anyone other than Truman. His disapproval rating has topped 50 percent for more than two years. And although Truman hit 67 percent and 65 percent once each within a month-long period, Bush has hit his high three times in the past 14 months.
Searching for a reason behind the public’s rampant dissatisfaction with Bush, Baker cites the unpopularity of the prez’s Iraq war and displeasure, specifically within the Republican’t ranks, with Bush’s fairly liberal stand on immigration. He might also have mentioned how Bush is draining the national piggybank to pay for his military endeavors overseas and enrich American corporations, and how he’s dramatically increased the size and expense of the federal government. However, Baker suggests that the prez’s record-teetering unfavorable ratings might not be attributed to any single cause; instead, they may reflect “a broader unease with Bush’s policies in a variety of areas. ‘It isn’t just the Iraq war,’ said Shirley Anne Warshaw, a presidential scholar at Gettysburg College. ‘It’s everything.’”

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