The latest Washington Post/ABC News poll of registered voters shows the toll that a winter of Democratic attacks, and mostly bad news, have taken on President Bush’s standing with the American people. The news, frankly, is grim. The complete data are here.
President Bush’s approval rating now stands slightly positive at 50% to 48%; but, sadly, a plurality–36%–now “strongly disapproves” of his leadership. Notwithstanding the boom of the past year, respondents disapprove of Bush’s “handling” of the economy by a startling 59% to 39%–which shows how thoroughly media coverage can trump reality. On issue after issue, the verdict is the same. By 53% to 46%, respondents disapprove his handling of the situation in Iraq. And the President’s reluctant opposition to gay marriage has already turned into a negative; by 52% to 44%, his principled position is unpopular.
In a head-to-head matchup with John Kerry, Kerry wins by eleven points, 53% to 42%. Some take solace from the fact that if Ralph Nader is included, he takes five points, almost all of it away from Kerry, so that Kerry beats Bush by only five percentage points. But it is questionable whether Nader will even get on the ballot in many states.
55% say that the Bush administration intentionally exaggerated Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction; 57% say that after four years we need to elect a president “who can set the nation in a new direction;” and 59% of respondents consider John Kerry “honest and trustworthy,” compared to 54% who consider President Bush “honest and trustworthy.”
I could go on and on, but you get the picture. The only area where President Bush currently enjoys a clear advantage is the war on terror; but most people now consider that a secondary issue.
Sure, the attacks on Kerry that will be forthcoming over the next eight months will have some effect, and may even be enough to narrowly re-elect President Bush. But it is hard to gainsay the fundamental reality that the liberal news media are more firmly in the saddle than ever. Things go well in Iraq, but if the “rebels” succeed in launching an ineffective missile or exploding a bomb in a mosque, our policy is a failure. The economy shows the strongest growth in twenty years, but things are said to be getting worse and worse. The president labors with painful sincerity to explain his obviously well-reasoned policies, all designed to secure the safety of the American people, but he is deemed a liar and a fool. I would submit that never before in American history has the nation’s establishment been so firmly united to bring about a political objective: the defeat of President Bush. And at the moment, it seems very likely that they will succeed, with consequences that are literally incalculable.
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