Bush's Poll Numbers
Is this because of Iraq or the economy?
Ask Americans and they'll tell you Iraq is the biggest issue facing the country, not the economy.
But is it bad news from Iraq that's driving down Bush's numbers? I doubt it.
It's just a hunch, but I bet it's the spike in gas prices that has triggered the decline. Red state Americans love their cars. Red state Americans love Bush. But given a choice between their cars and Bush they prefer their cars. Result: Bush's spell has been broken.
Bush fever reached its high point in November (lucky timing for him!). Today it's hard to find anyone still in thrall except in a couple of die-hard Red states like Utah and Idaho. (Is it any coincidence that when he ventured out of his Crawford bunker he went to these states? There aren't too many others where he could be assured a rousing crowd.)
But it's no longer enough that he look like a leader and sound like a leader (confession: he never did to me except briefly after 9-11 but I'm not a red stater kind of guy). Voters want results. And Bush isn't delivering.
Americans don't follow the news much. But gas prices they see every day. And they don't like what they're seeing. Bush--the first oil man president--has succeeded in giving oil companies fat profits at the expense of the consumers of oil. And people don't like it one bit.
The breaking of the Bush spell--which took hold after 9-11 when people came down with a strong case of Patriotic Fever--has cleared Americans' heads. They are finally ready to see reality again.
And the biggest reality staring them in the face is the mess in Iraq.
Iraq is worrying. No easy solution seems in sight. Bush's bromides no longer seem appealing. And so Americans are turning against him.
Bush bet his presidency on Iraq. He's learning now that this may have been a wager not even his daddy's rich friends could cover.
Sadly, it is not just Bush who is suffering.
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Oscar Chamberlain - 8/28/2005
I've long held the suspicion that the Oil Embargo made the Watergate scandal worse for Nixon. It shortened people's patience, and I suspect it damaged him in his area of greatest credibility, foreign policy.
Oscar Chamberlain - 8/28/2005
Historians--for the most part--outlive administrations. That gives us time to think and absorb.
I hated the Reagan administration. I still think it took us many steps in the wrong direction, but that does not stop me from giving Reagan and Co. credit for succeeding on their own terms when I teach US history.
Ralph E. Luker - 8/27/2005
Poor, misunderstood Georgie! It just makes me weep.
Stephen Tootle - 8/27/2005
I should add that I predict that Bush will be treated fairly by historians sometime around 2060.
Stephen Tootle - 8/27/2005
As much respect as I have for Dallek, he has a couple of blind spots. You might want to reread his book on Reagan and couple that with his statement that he wouldn't change much in it today.
As for Bush, the US has replaced dangerous regimes in Afghanistan and Iraq. Bush has been politically successful, building his party and pushing much of his program through. You may disagree with his program, but eventually historians will give him credit for this.
John H. Lederer - 8/27/2005
"But given his unwise decisions on taxes and the war in Iraq I cannot imagine that he will be treated particularly well by historians."
Had Bush defeated AIDS, cancer, and heart disease, doubled our income, ended spam, made TV dinners taste good, and the Post Office as efficient as FedEx, I doubt he would be treated well by historians.
The core problem is that to a certain degree any success by Bush means that many historians are fundamentally wrong in their worldview. That is very difficult for most to integrate.
HNN - 8/27/2005
Bob Dallek remarked in the fall of 2004 that he couldn't think of any accomplishment of Bush's.
I can think of two or three.
But given his unwise decisions on taxes and the war in Iraq I cannot imagine that he will be treated particularly well by historians.
What kind of results do voters want?
In war voters want victory. Iraq cannot be passed off as a victory. At home voters want low inflation, high employment, generous government services, low taxes. As it is impossible to achieve all of these goals simultaneously (some are in conflict with others) pols resort to flim flam. Bush usually does well at flim flam. But with gas prices zooming up no amount of flim flam can work to hide the reality that gas prices are zooming.
Stephen Tootle - 8/26/2005
Besides lower gas prices, what kind of results do voters want?
Other than your assessment that the aftermath of the Iraq war is a mess, how would you characterize the reality of Bush's term in office?
Dwight Deisen - 8/26/2005
this president will leave office with us in tremendous debt - outrageous gas prices - uncontrollable spending by a republican congress and one, now pitiable tax cut - and a half finished war -
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