Bush's press conference didn't add up

No doubt the president hoped to turn the tide of public opinion with his prime-time press conference last Thursday. He'll be disappointed in the numbers.

Published May 3, 2005 8:40PM (EDT)

President Bush was no doubt hoping to turn the tide of public opinion with his prime-time press conference last Thursday. He'll be disappointed: A CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll taken from April 29 (the day after the press conference) to May 1 showed that Americans increasingly disapprove of Bush's handling of the very issues he talked up last week.

On Social Security, Bush got his worst rating so far: Only 35 percent of respondents approved of his handling of the issue, and 58 percent disapproved. And the President's privatization scheme remains relatively unpopular -- 52 percent of respondents were against idea, while 44 percent were for it. Eighty-one percent of respondents believed that the system would require major changes in the coming years, but not so many seemed to be buying the White House's "crisis" theory: Though 45 percent said Social Security would need fixing with in the next one or two years, 46 percent said they'd be better off if Congress did not pass a new plan this year. (And the minority who believed Congress should pass a new plan in the coming year were essentially divided in half, along partisan lines, as to what that plan should look like.)

The President's prime-time discussion of energy issues doesn't seem to have helped him, either -- only 34 percent of poll respondents liked his handling of energy policy, while 54 percent disapproved. And he's really taking a hit for Americans' pain at the pump; 67 percent disapproved of Bush's handling of gas prices, with a mere 27 percent approving.

In fact, it doesn't seem like respondents think Bush is doing much of anything right. Fifty-five percent disapproved of his approach to Iraq; 53 percent disapproved of his managing of the economy; and 49 percent disapproved of his overall foreign policy.

By Page Rockwell

Page Rockwell is Salon's editorial project manager.

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