Saturday, May 20, 2006

Americans No Longer Like George Bush

Knight Ridder hits on a key reason why Bush will have a tough time recovering–Americans no longer like him:

A drop in his personal popularity, as measured by several public polls, has shadowed the decline in Bush’s job-approval ratings and weakened his political armor when he and his party need it most.

Losing that political protection - dubbed “Teflon” when Ronald Reagan had it - is costing Bush what the late political scientist Richard Neustadt called the “leeway” to survive hard times and maintain his grip on the nation’s agenda. Without it, Bush is a more tempting target for political enemies. And members of his party in Congress are less inclined to stand with him.

“When he loses likeability, the president loses the benefit of the doubt,” said Dennis Goldford, a political scientist at Drake University in Iowa. “That makes it much harder for him to steer.”

Bush has certainly managed to con the American voters several time. Despite ignoring intelligence which might have prevented the 9/11 attacks, freezing at the time of the attack, and attacking the wrong country after failing to finish the job in Afghanistan, Bush attracted considerable support post 9/11. He managed to sell a proposal to help the pharmaceutical and insurance industries as a reform of Medicare. He even managed to get reelected on a dismal record largely due to being the guy more voters (although certainly not me) would prefer to have a beer with. Katrina proved to be the tipping point, where Bush’s incompetence could no longer be ignored.

The article also quotes Gore aide Chris Lehane as believing “likeability certainly was an issue in 2000.” In contrast, personal popularity can help politicians, such as allowing Ronald Reagan to remain popular despite a recession and a scandal.


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