As Bush visits Argentina, Americans express unhappiness at home

A new Washington Post/ABC News poll reveals widespread disapproval of the president.

Published November 4, 2005 2:28PM (EST)

If the White House hoped that George W. Bush's trip to Argentina would wash away his woes back home, the Washington Post has some news for him. The paper has a story on the president's big trip, all right: It's on page A16. The front page? That's where you'll find stories about the criminal charges against Scooter Libby and a new poll with some devastating numbers for the president.

It's hard to get too excited about yet another poll showing Americans' unhappiness with their president: Bad poll results are the norm for Bush now. But as the front-page play suggests, the new Washington Post/ABC Poll is a doozy. The Post explains it this way: "For the first time in his presidency a majority of Americans question the integrity of President Bush, and growing doubts about his leadership have left him with record negative ratings on the economy, Iraq and even the war on terrorism.

Among the lowlights for the president:

  • Only 39 percent of the public approves of the job Bush is doing overall, and only 20 percent approves strongly -- both all-time lows for Bush in this poll;

  • Sixty-eight percent of the public disapproves of the way in which Bush is handling gas prices; 64 percent disapproves of his handling of the war in Iraq; and -- for the first time ever -- a slim majority disapproves of his handling of terrorism;

  • Sixty-eight percent of Americans believe their country has gotten "pretty seriously off on the wrong track," the worst numbers on that question in nearly a decade;

  • Asked if the president is "honest and trustworthy," 58 percent of the public says no;

  • And 70 percent of the poll's respondents say that they think the charges against Libby represent a "serious crime" rather than a "minor or technical" one.

The only bright spot for Bush? Respondents say by a 49 to 29 percent margin that Samuel Alito should be confirmed. Those aren't bad numbers this early in the process, but they're not as promising as the initial polling was for John G. Roberts, Stephen Breyer or even Clarence Thomas.

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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