Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Wisdom Doesn’t Always Come Easy

I didn’t even bother watching George W. Bush’s lame-duck State of the Union address last evening (not that I’ve been able to watch any of the previous ones all the way through). However, I did catch this revealing passage from Walter Shapiro’s report on the speech, which appeared this morning in Salon:
Bush was ballyhooed in advance as planning to speak of his guiding philosophy. But all he offered was the banal sentiment: “As Americans, we believe in the power of individuals to determine their destiny and shape the course of history. We believe that the most reliable guide for our country is the collective wisdom of ordinary citizens.”

That ode to the genius of the American people invites a look at the president’s popularity ratings. Bush came into this State of the Union address on a statistical roll that it will be difficult, if not impossible, for his successor to match. Beginning with the president’s first formal State of the Union in 2002, each year he has stood before Congress with a lower approval rating (courtesy of the Gallup poll) than the year before. In January 2007, it seemed a daunting challenge to drop below his 36 percent approval rating. But Bush--a president who fantasizes that he will be absolved by history--was up to the task, falling below the one-third mark.
You’ll find all of Shapiro’s assessment here.

READ MORE:Remember Me?” by John Dickerson (Slate); “Grasping for a Legacy,” by Richard Wolffe (Newsweek); “So Much for That Sprint to the Finish Line,” by Steve Benen (The Carpetbagger Report).

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