35 for 43

A CBS News poll has President Bush clocking a 35% approval rating35 percent. To put this in perspective, that’s only one point higher than the approval rating Jimmy Carter had the day he left office, and the lowest second-term presidential approval rating since Nixon wallowed in the 20s during the dog days of Watergate.

Another bit of perspective: For Bush’s second term to date, his highest approval ranking, according to CNN, was 57%, which is what it was in early February. That’s just three points higher than President Clinton’s lowest approval rating by CNN for his entire second term, in August ’97, as charted here.

Now, we can quibble about the details in terms of these polls. But it’s certainly accurate to say that Bush is far more unpopular now with the American public than Clinton was, which is a datum to remember the next time some right-winger gets all frothy about those divisive Bill Years. The Bill Years ain’t a patch on what we got going now, my friends.

I can’t imagine that the Bush approval rating could possibly get any lower than it is at the moment, but then again, that’s what I thought when it hit 39% a few weeks ago. Considering that there’s probably 33% of Americans who would rather chew on jagged glass than to show disloyalty to a sitting Republican president, a 35% approval rating basically means that no one outside the ranks of the ideologically paralyzed right-wing approves of our president. No one. The rating couldn’t possibly go lower. Could it?

What do I think about the Bush’s approval rating? Well, I think it’s exactly what he deserves. He’s a terrible president with an incompetent administration, and it’s gratifying to see the large majority of the American people coming around to this fact. Would that they would have come around to this conclusion a year ago, when the vote was on.

You’ll note, however, that I did not say that I was happy that Bush has such a God-awful rating. I’m not. Having a weak and deeply unpopular president makes us vulnerable as a nation, particularly when we are engaged in a war, and especially when engaged in a war that it is becoming increasingly clear the origins of which are best described as an administration misadventure. I don’t like Bush, and I wish he weren’t president; nevertheless he is my president, and my country is ill-served at home and abroad by his weaknesses, both real and perceived. Noting that this is a mess of his own making is cold comfort indeed. Bush may have made this bed, but we all have to lie in it.

One hopes that if the American people get anything out of the Bush second term, it’s to be reminded that the next time around, Republican or Democrat or something in between, they might want to try for competence. It’s not too much to hope for. Because at a 35% approval rating, we have a clear indication people recognize that incompetence isn’t working.

52 thoughts on “35 for 43

  1. An aside: I’m curious John. Who was the last major Republican you voted for?

    You make the point that you don’t like the major parties, but almost everything you write about seems to be slanted Left.

    Yes, yes, we know you are for the death penalty and there are other points. But really, aren’t you mostly voting Democrat?

  2. Anthony VanWagner:

    “But really, aren’t you mostly voting Democrat?”

    Yes. And? I certainly never suggested I voted Democrat and Republican equally. However, I can and do vote Republican if I think the specific candidate merits the vote.

    The last time I voted (2004), I voted for a couple of Republicans for local positions, although I suspect that’s not “major” enough for you. On the national level I voted Dem for president and for representative (the latter being an entirely lost cause in my district). There was no Senate race in Ohio, so I didn’t vote in that, but I have no antipathy with either Ohio senator, and they’re both Republicans, so it’s not a given I’d’ve voted against either. I genuinely don’t remember for whom I voted in Ohio’s 2002 senatorial race.

    When I lived in Virigina, I regularly voted for Frank Wolf as my representative, and he’s rather unabashedly a conservative Republican. However, I found him also to be a moral and largely admirable man, whose principles were not bound in political expediency — which is to say he was not a hypocrite so far as I can see. Also, he was head of the House Transportation Committee, which meant absolutely perfect roads where I lived. I didn’t share his views on a lot of social issues, but I could live with that because I thought otherwise he was an excellent public servant.

    I’ll also note — no doubt to the horror of many — that had I lived California at the time, I would have voted against the recall, but for Schwarzenegger for governor, because I would have been curious to see what would have happened next. If I lived in New York City today, I’m fairly certain I would vote for Bloomberg.

    Fact is, I’m generally socially liberal and generally fiscally conservative, which would make me, historically, something of a “Rockefeller Republican.” Had I Rockefeller Republicans to vote for, I would probably happily do so. Rather tragically for me, the current Republican party leadership and rank-and-file is socially extremely conservative and fiscially deranged, and also corrupt, and profoundly incompetent. I don’t know why anyone would want to vote for that toxic combination.

  3. I’m not disagreeing with your sentiment. I’m not agreeing with it, either. But I do take issue with using approval polls as support for your conclusion that he’s a bad president. Not only is that inaccurate, it’s misleading. After all, you must have come to the conclusion that all those Americans who voted for him during the last election made a mistake. What’s to say their opinions aren’t faulty now?

  4. Oliver Dale:

    “But I do take issue with using approval polls as support for your conclusion that he’s a bad president.”

    I don’t. I’ve thought he was a bad president regularly since he was elected, although there were times I thought he was less bad than others (immediately after 9/11 I thought he stepped up to the plate, although it didn’t take long for him to begin whiffing mightily on that front, either). I have a rather long and depressing list of all the reasons I think he’s a bad president, none of which are “and everyone else thinks he’s bad, too.”

    What the polls show are is simply that other people are thinking he’s a bad president, too.

    “After all, you must have come to the conclusion that all those Americans who voted for him during the last election made a mistake.”

    You mean, I think they did so accidentally or unintentionally, or voted drunk or something? No. I think most people who voted for Bush intentionally voted for Bush and had their reasons for doing so, and to that extent, they were not in the least bit mistaken in voting for him. Everyone should vote for who they feel is the best candidate. I think they chose poorly (and now many are apparently also coming to that realization), but that’s another matter entirely.

  5. Another president who went down in flames during his second term was Harry Truman. Had the same, “Screw you, I’m doing it my way!” attitude. Mind you, Bush Defeats Kerry was more of a nailbiter than a shocker, mainly because no one wanted a repeat of 2000. But Truman’s approval rating tanked almost before he took his second oath and never recovered.

    I’m generally down on Bush. The war was botched in its justification and its execution. (Mind you, I think Sadaam had to go, and pulling out suddenly and at this point in time would be monumentally stupid.) He rides roughshod over the Constitution and seems hellbent on giving the wealthy a tax break even as the nation’s cash reserves drain faster than burning hydrogen from the Hindenburg.

    But many people also thought Truman wrecked the nation, and yet now he’s considered a rough model for a modern president. It’s possible, and I’m willing to concede this point, that Bush’s achievements won’t be known until well after he leaves office.

    On the downside, Bush’s achievements might come back to haunt us well after he leaves office.

    So is he Truman? Or Herbert Hoover?

    Give yourself an F if you go by political party to answer that question, because the question goes a helluva lot deeper than that.

  6. “Now, we can quibble about the details in terms of these polls. But it’s certainly accurate to say that Bush is far more unpopular now with the American public than Clinton was[…]”

    We can do more than quibble:

    http://www.realclearpolitics.com/blog/2005/11/cbs_news_poll.html

    But setting that aside, it only seems like Bush is unpopular if you spend all your time within the “bastions of blueness” like northern states, Austin and the internet where Bush-bashing is still the cool thing to do but the rest of the country is still remarkably pro-Bush. I know this seems hard to believe if all you ever see is the internet (I find it hard to believe myself sometimes as much time as I spend on it), but it is true.

    I don’t mean to be trite (or pretend I’m a Republican because I’m not), but let’s not forget the election map either:

    http://www.usatoday.com/news/politicselections/vote2004/countymap.htm

    And, sure, you can argue things have changed since 2004, but not really by much.

  7. Jim Winter:

    “But many people also thought Truman wrecked the nation, and yet now he’s considered a rough model for a modern president.”

    Leaving aside the question of whether Truman was a good president or not, this leaves open the question of whether the historical opinion of a former president is any more or less valid than the current opinion of a sitting president.

  8. “…this leaves open the question of whether the historical opinion of a former president is any more or less valid than the current opinion of a sitting president.”

    An excellent point. Unfortunately, for sitting presidents, current opinion is all we have to go by, which doesn’t bode well for Mr. Bush.

    On the other hand, a president’s stock tends to go up long after he’s retired, though not always. Nixon is merely disliked in general (Note I said “in general”. I know a good chunk of people still think he’s the devil incarnate.), but Carter is admired more for his post-presidential activities than his time in office.

    And some will always be controversial. Ronald Reagan, for example, is probably more divisive now than when he was in office. If anything, he’s a lightning rod for the schism between left and right.

    But W’s not a Reagan. He’s more like LBJ, complete with ranch and an unpopular war. And if LBJ is the poster boy for what people don’t like about the left, Bush is accomplishing the same for the right. You can say that’s true of any president, but it seems especially true now and in the late 1960’s.

    Must be something in the water in Texas.

  9. I’m convinced that what brought us the second Bush term was a popular contempt for the very notion of expertise, a misguided conflation of merit with elitism. But it turns out that it takes expertise to run a country. And when you slip one too many mediocre lawyers and horseshow rejects into critical appointments, things start to crumble. I hope you’re right, Scalzi. I hope voters demand competence next time.

  10. I find it hard to believe that you (The American public) voted in Bush, given his record of failed businesses, etc. Now I’ve heard a lot about his folksy, down-to-earth appeal but I never seen anything but a rube who uses English like a clumsy drunk. I can’t understand choosing him over an articulate, educated man. What sort of logic went in to choosing a lesser sort of man to lead you?

  11. Jim, you’re not the first person I’ve heard make the LBJ comparison, and I think it’s a good one. If you read Molly Ivins you’ll discover that Texas has more than its fair share of politicians with a few screws loose. I hope for the sake of our country that it will be a loooong time before we elect another Texan to sit in the White House.

  12. K. Brown:

    Examples of people preferring ideology over facts abound. The story of Trofim Lysenko and his effect on science in the Soviet Union is the first to come to mind. Many people see facts as a matter of opinion and see opposition to their existing views as simply spin by their opponents. Where you may see an articulate, educated man, many see someone who deliberately talks over their heads in order to confuse them into agreeing.

    I worked in sales for a time and I found it much easier to talk someone into a sale if they thought of themself as intelligent. They could be convinced through argument and facts, even if the facts they were shown did not represent the whole picture. On the other hand, people who were less intelligent, or at least thought of themselves as such were a much harder sell because they did not have to prove my arguments wrong in order to disagree.

    It seems that after being duped a few times, people learn to stick to their beliefs regardless of evidence, rather than risk being the victim of a “fast talker”. I don’t think that this is uniquely American. Representative Democracy is just particularly succeptable to this kind of thinking.

  13. To paraphrase Tina Fey of SNL’s Weekend Update:

    A new poll shows 65% of Americans disapprove of the job President Bush is doing…

    The remaining 35% of Americans think that Adam and Eve rode dinosaurs to church.

  14. Up until this year, I thought that by 2028 Bush II would be widely viewed as one of the worst presidents ever.

    I’m now wondering if that point may be reached before he leaves office.

  15. Q:

    “Adam and Eve rode dinosaurs to church.”

    You gotta admit, though, that it would have been awesome if they had.

  16. You have a point John. Only a hard-core partisan could deny that Bush is doing a poor job.

    The problem is that the party of Michael Moore, Cindy Sheehan, and Ted Kennedy doesn’t look a pack of winners either?

    Third parties, anyone?

  17. Further proof we need to vote the the candidate, not the party. Give me someone who’s competent and not a zealot and I really don’t care what party they belong to… I used to consider myself fairly Republican (though a bit more socially liberal) until Dubya and Co. co-opted it into some vast right wing nut-barrel. They’ve made social ultra- or neo-conservatism synonymous with Republican and turned away from most of the fiscally conservative values I actually appreciated…

  18. Radical Bender:

    “We can do more than quibble:”

    Actually, the comment this refers to was based on the CNN polls, not the CBS poll. I’m willing to accept this poll — even if done correctly and without selection bias — could be an outlier, and that Bush’s popularity is a few points higher (which still isn’t good).

    “let’s not forget the election map either:”

    Well, two things re: the election map: One, overlay a map of population density over the election map and you’ll see that having most of the great plains in your pocket means nothing when two counties in California have more population than any four Great Plains states, mixed and matched; two, the Purple Election Map more accurately shows that there is some of every political stripe pretty much everywhere.

    I myself live in a county that went 70% for Bush in the last election, but even here there’s quite a bit of grumbling. But one thing to emphasize, which I think is to your point, is that just because people are angry with the president doesn’t mean all those red states are going to suddenly turn blue. That’s a different argument altogether.

  19. Radical Bender, you point to the map of how each county voted as proof for vast support for George Bush, but that is a bit misleading.

    First, while that map is great for showing where each candidate had a majority, it says nothing about the actual election results. Each state gets a number of electors equal to the number of representatives plus the number of senators for that state. Wyoming has 23 counties but it only gets three electors (the bare minimum). Meanwhile, Hawaii only has four counties but gets four electors. Also, one densely populated urban county can easily outweigh several sparsely populated rural counties within a given state. Point being: the amount of land area colored red based on how each county voted is irrelevant.

    Second, painting each county red or blue is in itself misleading. A county that gets one more vote for Bush than for Kerry would be colored the same color red as one that had voted Bush in a landslide.

    If you want to see a better representation of how the country voted, check out this cartogram that also uses a sliding scale from dark red to dark blue to indicate relative

  20. Re: the election of 2004: Let’s not forget there were two candidates running. Kerry may have been the more articulate, but he insisted on running his campaign on Bush’s turf (The GWOT, national security, etc.), under the apparent assumption that if he could win the issues where Bush polled strongly, he’d win the election. The result was a campaign that never really focused on the (many) areas where Bush polled poorly. As someone who set out to vote against Bush, but wound up voting for him, I remain convinced that Kerry lost the election much moreso than Bush won it.

    Re: Bush’s legacy, I don’t know all that much about LBJ, but I would make the case that Bush shows a lot of similarities to Reagan.

    Reagan took a very unpopular foreign policy position and stuck with it through critcism and scandal alike. He was abhorred by many, some claiming that his policies were going to plunge the country into nuclear war with the Soviets. He was called incompetent, lazy and senile. In the long run, with the fall of the Soviet union, many of his policies were vindicated and many think of him as a visionary that achieved long term gains at the expense of short term instability.

    His polling reached the low forties twice (in the second half of each term), but was 57% by the time he left office, and reached 73% in 2002. In 1998, 23% polled called him the best president in their lifetime, #1 ahead of Bill Clinton (22%). In the same poll, 17% called him the worst president in their lifetime, #2 behind Nixon (23%). (source)

    Bush is in the same position today, except that we don’t know if his Soviet Union (Iraq) will fall (become a democracy). If it does, and others follow behind it (e.g., Afghanistan, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan) I think people will look back on him favorably, and call him the “man who saved the Middle East.” If not, he’ll be the bungling fool he is today. I think that despite how it feels now, the jury is still out, and the work that will determine how it plays out hasn’t been done yet.

  21. Brian Greenberg:

    “I remain convinced that Kerry lost the election much moreso than Bush won it.”

    As I was the fellow who said Kerry should be beaten to death with his own shoes if he couldn’t win against Bush, I would have to agree that Kerry lost it as much as Bush won it.

  22. “You’ll note, however, that I did not say that I was happy that Bush has such a God-awful rating. I’m not. Having a weak and deeply unpopular president makes us vulnerable as a nation, particularly when we are engaged in a war, and especially when engaged in a war that it is becoming increasingly clear the origins of which are best described as an administration misadventure. I don’t like Bush, and I wish he weren’t president; nevertheless he is my president, and my country is ill-served at home and abroad by his weaknesses, both real and perceived. Noting that this is a mess of his own making is cold comfort indeed. Bush may have made this bed, but we all have to lie in it.”

    I found this particualarly well put. It chills me to the bones that the tack both extreme sides take is jubilation when an “opposition” politician screws up, or is a screw up. Its a dark reminder that the competitive spirit can merely be cynisism and winning at all costs. What’s best for the country be damned.

    “although there were times I thought he was less bad than others (immediately after 9/11 I thought he stepped up to the plate, although it didn’t take long for him to begin whiffing mightily on that front, either).”

    I actually never thought he stepped up to the plate. I watched him sit with a book in his lap and a thumb up his ass waiting for someone to tell him what to do from the get go on 9/11. I wear like a badge of honor my stance with the 10% who still disapproved of him on 9/12. I believe if he had paid attention to what was going on in the world and heeded the Clinton administration instead of ignoring them than 9/11 would not have happened in the first place.

    Patrick-
    “The problem is that the party of Michael Moore, Cindy Sheehan, and Ted Kennedy doesn’t look a pack of winners either?”

    I’m always interested to find out why folks think what they say they think. What exactly is it about the people you name that you have a problem with? What have you heard about them and whom have you heard it from?

  23. Brian Greenberg:

    “Re: Bush’s legacy, I don’t know all that much about LBJ, but I would make the case that Bush shows a lot of similarities to Reagan.”

    Ideologically, yes, but Reagan came in at a time when America was in the economic crapper, and it was far worse than the dotcom boom. It’s hard to argue with the fact that the government in 1980 was too damn big, and it never occured to Republican or Democrat to give it an overhaul. Also, we were in the midst of the Cold War. We seemed to have forgotten about it, but it didn’t forget us.

    Switch to Bush. Bush inherited a stalled, but relatively healthy economy. So what has he done? Well, LBJ overspent, largely due to an unpopular and badly fought war abroad. W has done the same, insisting on tax cuts, then going to war. The tax cuts confuse the hell out of me, because the rates were nowhere near as high as the pre-Reagan years. So we cut taxes, and what happens? First national crisis – only nine months into the new presidency – and the budget surplus starts to evaporate. Now we have terror, a war, a worsening trade deficit, an oil crisis (Don’t kid yourselves. If energy costs too much, it’s a crisis. And it costs too much.), and not one, but two major disaster areas. (I’m wondering if the disaster trifecta will be reached with that California earthquake before or after 2008.)

    All this looks more like LBJ. LBJ wanted his war on poverty and Vietnam, and the nation lost its manufacturing base and a lot of credibility as a result. Bush wants his war on impoverishing the wealthy and Iraq.

    I hope you’re all ready for the return of the 70% tax bracket, because that’s exactly what this will lead to.

  24. Hmm, thanks for the link to the Rockefeller Republicans. My immediate thought was “hey, I’d vote for those guys.” But then, I’ve described myself elsewhere as fiscal conservative and socially moderate. Whereas, the current regime in Washington is fiscally insane and socially conservative.

    (What it comes down to for me is that the democrats aren’t a lot more fiscally responsible, but they *are* more responsible)

    I definitely agree that Kerry lost because of Kerry’s misteps. While the end of his campaign (that is, the debates) was decent, there were a number of months where he became a punching bag and let himself be painted by the opposition without significant response.

    While in general I agree that having a weak president is a bad thing for the country, I think the silver lining to be found here is that it allows for more opposition within the government to his policies. I think if Bush’s ratings had been solidly higher, the sabotage of the Meirs nomination would have been more difficult.

    And yes, riding dinosaurs would ROCK!

  25. I think you’ve nailed it, John. What’s bleak is that Bush’s term (unless someone takes steps to end it prematurely) does not conclude until January 2009 and it’s only November 2005.

    We have long time before we move on to the next president. (And even if his term ends prematurely, a President Cheney scarcely seems more competent.)

    I feel like we’re caught in this weird catch-22. If he continues to be incompetent, we’re stuck in this situation until 2009. If he gets bailed out as he has in previous occasions, I’m afraid that we, as a nation, will not learn our lesson to value competence.

    It’s extremely hard to figure out what to hope for in this situation. Is there a scenario where Bush gets bailed out such that people do not decide that if it has worked out in the end then picking Bush was not such a bad decision after all?

  26. The thing to hope for is that at least one half of Congress goes to the Democrats in 2006, thus curtailing Bush’s worst autocratic instincts. That would be a good short-term solution in my opinion.

  27. Anon: Here’s an interesting scenario, though not what you’re looking for.

    Earlier this week Al Franken was on the Daily Show promoting his new book and described his view of the near future (I think this is from the book).

    In 2006 the Democrats take back Congress and use the opportunity to investigate the administration’s crimes.

    In 2008, he (Franken) is elected Senator from Minnesota.

    The new Congress convenes in January 2009, 2 weeks before the presidential inauguration, and decides to do a quickie impeachment. Why impeach him 2 weeks before the end of his term? “Because we can.” He’s impeached and convicted in a single afternoon.

  28. You forgot the best part of Franken’s future-history though…

    Cheney is thus President for about 5 days… and has 7 heart attacks.

  29. John,

    I find this thread amusing. Who cares what his popularity rating is? He is never going to run for office again. Both the CNN and the CBS polls have significant problems with their samples. Every time they take a new poll they increase the number of Democrats in the sample and amazingly the numbers go down. The only people who care are those people who already dislike Bush and are looking to validate their position.

    Your point about Clinton is similarily out of context. We were at a strange historical point after the end of the cold war where there weren’t any obvious threats to the country, and the market was in the middle of it’s biggest bubble since the 20’s. A hamster in the oval office could have polled at 80%.

    Finally, Bush won two elections. He won decisively in Afganastan. He has a good chance of being proven right in Iraq. He has affected major changes in Lybia, Lebannon, Israel, and Saudi Arabia. He has pushed through numerous major pieces of legislation ranging from bankruptcy and tort reform to tax cuts and medicare increases. He is in the process of pushing through his second supreme court justice. The economy is booming, unemployment is at historic lows, inflation is low, and real wages are growing. And his “faith” initiatives have had a real mpact on social problems. While I don’t like many of his accomplishments they aren’t beans. And his party has gained seats in every election during his tenure. Now you may not like him but he is not incompetent or bumbling or stupid. In his own goofy way he has brought about more significant changes than just about any other past president and he still has three years left.

    The fact that he regularily draws crowds of foaming at the mouth socialists and marxists when he travels shows that they see him as a serious threat. If he were the bumbling idiot you claim no one would care.

  30. Wow! Paul, you must really enjoy that kool-aid…

    How do you figure the economy is ‘booming’? As just one indicator, the DJIA has gone nowhere since Bush took office (today’s close was 55 points lower than Jan 22, 2001)…

  31. Who cares what his popularity rating is? He is never going to run for office again.

    Paul, thanks for cheering me up.

    The fact that he regularily draws crowds of foaming at the mouth socialists and marxists when he travels shows that they see him as a serious threat. If he were the bumbling idiot you claim no one would care.

    Unfortunately, he is a bumbling idiot with nukes, which tends to pique people’s interest.

  32. “I find it hard to believe that you (The American public) voted in Bush”

    I voted for Bush for one reason, and one reason only. John Roberts = Chief Justice. I did not want the ticket of Gold-digger/Ambulance-chaser placing judges on the Supreme Court.

  33. “Both the CNN and the CBS polls have significant problems with their samples. Every time they take a new poll they increase the number of Democrats in the sample and amazingly the numbers go down.”

    Well, you’re half-right, anyway. Yes, the proportion of self-identified Republicans has been dropping lately in the polls. I wonder why that might be?

    (Hint: maybe, just maybe, it’s related to the recent phenomenon of large numbers of people scraping those “W” stickers off their vehicles all of a sudden.)

  34. Those old polls are from Gallup, and Gallup seems to generally produce higher approval ratings than most other polls by a few points (for whatever reason). If you do an apples-to-apples comparison, Bush’s job approval is still somewhere in the high thirties or around 40. Which actually means his current approval is still comparable to Clinton’s all-time low.

    …Which was early in his first term, when the economy was still in the hole and Clinton’s nascent administration seemed stumbling and unfocused; and then again in the middle of his first term while Gingrich was riding high, the other party was sweeping the House and Americans were doing things like crashing small airplanes into the White House. So I wouldn’t say this is a happy comparison for Bush.

  35. The poll actually has a 3.4% margin of error. http://thinkprogress.org/2005/10/13/two-percent

    While amusing, that’s not what the margin of error means. I did a bit of research on margins of error a while back, and what a 3.4% margin of error means is that if 50% of African-Americans approved of Bush (hah), and if the survey sample was random (hah), then there is a 95%[1] percent chance that the number of African-Americans in the sample that approved of Bush was between 46.6% and 53.4%.
    [1] Assuming that that is the confidence interval for the survey.
    Now surveys get more accurate at the extremes. If the number of African-Americans that approve of Bush is 2%, there is enough information to calculate the margin of error to that number to a first approximation: it comes out to just under a percentage point. Now if that margin of error was smaller, it would be mostly valid to turn it around and say there is a 95% chance that the number of African-Americans that approve of Bush is between 1% and 3% (as opposed to a 95% percent chance that the survey will give a result between 1% and 3% given that the actual approval rating is 2%–NOT the same thing, but usually close enough). But in this case, the survey sample is small enough that neither is really true–the first approximation isn’t good enough. Which was obvious from the get-go, making this so much intellectual masturbation. mmm.

  36. >>>”The problem is that the party of Michael Moore, Cindy Sheehan, and Ted Kennedy doesn’t look a pack of winners either?”

    >>>I’m always interested to find out why folks think what they say they think. What exactly is it about the people you name that you have a problem with? What have you heard about them and whom have you heard it from?

    I can’t speak for Patrick, but I think the problem many people have with Sheehan and Moore is that they have come out publicly in support of the folks killing US troops in Iraq and Afganistan. Even if you don’t agree with the decision to invade, cheering on the enemy (see Moore calling the Iraqi resistance “Minutemen”) can be hard to stomach.

    I think the real issue is that the Democratic party hasn’t agreed on a rationale for using force in foreign policy. Example: should we intervene in the genocide in Darfur? More importantly, why or why not? Under what conditions would it have been legitimate to invade Iraq? Again, why or why not? Statements by Sheehan and Moore suggest that they would NEVER support intervention.

    I tend to agree with the editorial position of The New Republic, which argues that the Democratic party of today is in situation similar to that of 1945-46. Back then, the Dems were trying to decide if Communism was an evil to fight or a potential ally. Then as now, absent a clear foreign policy from the Democrats, the Republican foreign policy carried the day by default.

    Sorry to be anonymous, but some folks at the day job would have issue with me being even part of this discussion.

  37. Interesting thread. It seems that to so many Americans, the definition of truth is what you can prove in court, or get away with anywhere else. Truth isn’t what’s true any more.

    Who cares how accurate the popularity poll is? Can’t you just watch the news and decide how good a job Bush is doing? I guess a lot of people can’t or won’t think for themselves. No wonder we are in such trouble.

    Reality looks much worse to me than the polls. I guess that’s why the spin doctors emphasize the polls.

  38. reflecting upon what happened (9/11) during his first term, and his subsequent actions (war), i thought americans were generally, “since he started it, let’s see how he finishes it.” but mostly, i thought americans just want to play it safe, considering that he did put up a good front for a while after 9/11.

    i don’t mean to be insensitive, but had the unfortunate tragedy never occured, bush would probably never got his second term (considering his weak efforts in leading the country during crisis, and making stupid statements and gestures). america (and the world) might, no, would have been a better place in 2005.

    perhaps, bush-the-president would make a great character in a sitcom. and probably, bush-the-incompetent would do a good job playing president. and definitely, half of the season, the episodes would have the president character sipping ice lemon tea and playing golf. oh wait, they are already showing this on CNN.

  39. I’m surprised nobody has pointed out that part part of why Bush is polling so low is that he’s annoying both the left *and* the right, though for different reasons. Lots of folks on the right would tell a pollster that they disapprove of Bush right now, even though they’re likely saying that for the exact opposite reasons as folks on the left saying it. It sure hurts your numbers when you annoy both sides.

    Maybe I am misremembering, but as much as the right was hating Clinton when his numbers dropped, the left was okay with him.

  40. I can’t speak for Patrick, but I think the problem many people have with Sheehan and Moore is that they have come out publicly in support of the folks killing US troops in Iraq and Afganistan. Even if you don’t agree with the decision to invade, cheering on the enemy (see Moore calling the Iraqi resistance “Minutemen”) can be hard to stomach.

    I sort of find it hard to believe Sheehan would come out supporting the resistance that killed her son. She hates the president for putting her son in danger and blames him for it, but that doesn’t mean she supports those who shot the poor kid.
    Now, I think anyone who would fight because they prefered Saddam is a nutjob, but I don’t know how many people that may be. I think a large part of the resistance exists because they are pissed a foreign country came in and exerted its will on their country. If we had an utter tyrrant, who Amnesty Internation condemned, who had no respect for international law, the Geneva convention, or the liberty of his own people, and was a threat to the rest of the world, and members of the rest of the world stepped in to remove the tyrant, US citizens would respond in the exact same manner as the iraqi resistance.

    I’m not supporting the Iraqi resistance; I think what they do is to the determent of everyone, but I do understand why they do it. That’s not the same as me saying I hope they murder our troops, because having several friends over there I rather wish they would stop. I guess what I am suggesting is that it is possible to hate and blame the president for the war, understand why the resistance exists, and still not support them killing our people.

    (On a complete aside, it occurs to me that the random scenario about a US tyrant could describe President Shrub. That doesn’t mean I equate his incompetent level of evil to that of Saddam. Saddam was much better at it.)

  41. Bush is far more unpopular now with the American public than Clinton was, which is a datum to remember the next time some right-winger gets all frothy about those divisive Bill Years.

    But they’re right. 45% approval + 45% disapproval = divisive. 35% approval + 55% disapproval = much less divisive.

    He’s a uniter, not a divider.

  42. Rick:
    “I voted for Bush for one reason, and one reason only. John Roberts = Chief Justice.”

    You can’t hire an employee based on just *one* criterion: It leaves us all exposed.

  43. What’s truly sad is that history may never really have a fair chance of evaluating the Bush administration. W pushed through a crazy act saying that the only time presidential papers are to be public are when the president in question (or his/her estate if the president in question is deceased) AND the current president allow them to be released. Thus far, Clinton has tried to release more of his papers, but W won’t agree. What are the odds that W or his cronies will ever let the public see their true work? I just hope that people in the future will see this administration for the destructive force that they are, but recent portrayals of Reagan don’t give me much hope. The guy destroyed the working class and urban communities and he’s deified, so not much chance that W’s true vile damage be written about either.

  44. Rick:
    “I voted for Bush for one reason, and one reason only. John Roberts = Chief Justice.”

    Can you clarify what you mean by this Rick. I don’t know if you mean:

    a) You think he is a fair minded jurist that will wisely make unbiased decisions that allow people to think, feel, and do what they want with their own lives as long as they don’t harm any one elses ability to do so, or…

    b)You think he will draw lines in the sand that coinside with your lines in the sand as to what people can and can’t do in the privacy of their own lives whether or not it harms any one else or their ability to do so, or…

    c)He is your brother-in-law and you somehow knew when you voted for Bush that Rhenquist was gonna die, O’Connor was gonna retire, and Roberts was gonna be made Chief Justice and you’re just happy for him.

    “Paul said:

    He has a good chance of being proven right in Iraq.

    About what, pray tell?”

    My curiosity is peaked as well. Do explain Paul.

    anonymous
    “I can’t speak for Patrick, but I think the problem many people have with Sheehan and Moore is that they have come out publicly in support of the folks killing US troops in Iraq and Afganistan. Even if you don’t agree with the decision to invade, cheering on the enemy (see Moore calling the Iraqi resistance “Minutemen”) can be hard to stomach.”

    That would be a good point if it were remotely true. What is it about some folks that think by saying it, it makes it real.
    As a member of the military I find it particularly disturbing and deeply offensive how conservatives have portrayed a grief stricken woman who paid the dearest price a parent can pay, and who’s son paid the dearest price an individual can pay in service to country (and you dumb-asses) by demonizing her dissent. You make me ashamed that I serve you and your ilk. Thankfully there are some who still love America and aren’t just blindly following its leadership off of the cliff. I just wish it hadn’t taken so long for so many to come around. As I’ve said before, I was one of the 10% who on 9/12/01 didn’t think it was some kind of wonderful leadership ability on Bush’s part that allowed terrorists to fly airplanes into occupied skyscrapers.

  45. John: “Having a weak and deeply unpopular president makes us vulnerable as a nation, …”

    Ordinarily, this would be true. However, Bush has proven himself to have the reverse midas touch (for us; for his cronies he’s pulling in the bucks quite nicely). Given a GOP Congress which won’t check him unless they’re scared that he’s electoral poison, a weak and deeply unpopular president is the best that the USA can do right now.

  46. As an ideologically-paralyzed right-winger, I’d like to point out that quite a few genuine conservatives and libertarians are unhappy with Bush. I’m not a big fan of increased federal invovlement with education, a massive new entitlement program, strip-searches at airports, and increased federalization of law enforcement. Republican “team-players” may be happy with Bush, but he’s given precious little to actual conservatives. I’ll also add that, while I’d like to see government do fewer things, I’d prefer that it does the things it does with some reasonable degree of competence. Bush’s dad may not have been sufficiently conservative to please the faithful, but his administration did demonstrate basic competence.

    Bush has, amazingly, drastically increased the size of government while at the same time alienating both folks who want more government and those who prefer less.

    This is, therefore, a time when the US could use a responsible, adult Democratic Party. Alas, the Democrats have become captive to the George Soros/Michael Moore lunatic fringe left. I mean, why not nominate a genuine centrist, rather than a liberal Democrat from the Northeast? For that matter, with all the agitation about Bush’s propensity to mangle the English language, why pick a candidate who is more long-winded, but no more articulate than Bush?

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