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July 19, 2005


from Gallup:

Other second-term presidents had significantly higher 18th-quarter averages than Bush. For example, Dwight Eisenhower averaged 63.6%, Ronald Reagan 58.7%, and Bill Clinton 56.3%. Bush's current average may be most comparable to Truman's 48.7%, registered less than a year after his famous come-from-behind victory in 1948.

Richard Nixon was also below the 50% mark shortly after being re-elected, averaging just 44% approval as the effects of the Watergate scandal were beginning to take hold in April-June 1973. Incidentally, that represented the last time Nixon averaged above 40% approval for a quarter until his resignation from office.

Lyndon Johnson had a 42% average in his 18th quarter, the lowest Gallup has measured. But unlike other presidents whose 18th quarters came in the first year of their second terms in office, Johnson's came in the last year he was in office because his presidency began in the third year of Kennedy's term.

Where's the floor? If Bush pisses off enough of the Christian Reich element of his supporter base, can he drop below 40%?

this is today's mushy middle post, flanked by hard news in Rove and SCOTUS.

From the Globe:

Bush's statement was true enough that his supporters never doubted his accuracy. It was also untrue enough that his opponents instantly felt he was lying. But until recently there was always a group in the middle, wavering on the war and on Republican policies generally, that gave Bush high points for honesty. That group seems to be changing its mind about Bush's straight talk.

If so, it marks the realization that yet another seemingly successful presidential style of communicating serves to obscure as much as it reveals. From Dwight Eisenhower's friendly but foggy nonanswers, to Ronald Reagan's memorable but misleading anecdotes, to Bill Clinton's logical but carefully couched disclaimers, the American public has been coming to grips with presidential obfuscation for decades.

It is a particular comedown for Bush, since his seemingly straight, simple honesty --coming on the heels of Clinton's much more complicated, emotive style -- was key to his appeal.

Boy, that thing from the Globe is truly a load (though it is nice to see a columnist acknowledge presidential dodging and weaving wasn't invented sui generis by Clinton). What the writer might have said was, Bush has (with the help of a sycophantic press cheering squad) aggressively pushed the idea of his own perfect honesty -- a premise that fooled a bare majority of voters last year, but is now collapsing under the weight of cognitive dissonance.

So, Gallup gives Bush his best possible reading (including the likely misleading post-London poll), and it still fails to bring him up to historical par. And all of this comes before the Rove thing seeps into major public consciousness. Darker times are ahead.

I wonder about the premise that the Supreme Court engagement will be such a boon for Bush. For openers, Fitzgerald isn't going anywhere -- Bob Franken may be unable to sustain in interest in more than one story at a time, but that won't stop the legal process from continuing. It'll be picked up whenever there's a development. Second, as you imply here, DemfromCT, Bush so weakened is not free to use a Court nomination in the same way as he might have been, say, two year ago. If he attempts to push the boundaries, he might find himself hitting a wall. Recall when Reagan, bloodied from Iran-Contra, was suddenly presented with Lewis Powell's retirement from the Court. A gift, said the pundits. But when Reagan tried to ram Bork through, he ended up receiving the most singular defeat of his presidency.

By the way, Dem: can you believe the FIRST PLACE Yankees? Would you have taken any odds on that six weks ago?

Yankee fans know what counts is in Oct... we haven't lost and we haven't won. Now with some healthy pitching and a trade for a center fielder... and it doesn't hurt to have Boston more flawed than us.

As for Rove seepage, Time and Newsweek cover stories plus the late night comedians have already helped America get the picture, hence yesterday's ABC poll.

"That group seems to be changing its mind about Bush's straight talk."

This statement, at least, is actually correct. Bush has been granted pass after pass based on little more than a belief in his ultimate honesty and well-meaningness. The Iraq lie and Plame outing set of scandals have the potential to obliterate that image.

The second paragraph of your Globe excerpt is just wishful thinking on the GOP's account. Thing is, no one, not even Dems, really believed much of what Clinton said. It was just that his scandals seemed so tangential to what the majority of the country cared about, that he was seen as more of a loveable "rascal" than a destructive force. Bush, on the other hand, built his image on a patent lie ("honest fool") which unfortunately for him, people took seriously. He's now falling on his face.

Once the Red Sox start winning again, they will take back first place.

4jkb4ia, I'm sure that's true. But only October counts.

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