The president -- "more albatross than advantage"?

It's a bad day to be Bush.

By Tim Grieve
March 10, 2006 7:32PM (UTC)
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Good morning, Mr. President. Here's your news roundup.

The Associated Press, reporting on a new AP/Ipsos Poll, says that "more and more Americans" disapprove of your performance, question your character and no longer consider you a strong leader against terrorism. The poll puts your approval rating at 37 percent, the lowest of your presidency for the AP poll. Only 36 percent of the public approves of the way you're handling domestic affairs. Only 43 percent approves on foreign policy and terrorism. Sen. Sam Brownback -- he's a Republican, sir -- says voters are taking a look at you and then saying to themselves, "Well, I wonder what other people can do."


The Washington Post says some Republicans running for office in November fear that you'll be "more albatross than advantage." Citing your sinking poll numbers and your tone-deaf approach to the Dubai Ports World deal, the Post sees "a perception of weakness that has liberated Republicans who once would never have dared" to cross you. Republican pollster Tony Fabrizio says you have "no political capital" left.

Business Week says the Dubai deal looks like "the thread that could unravel" your standing on many fronts. Pollster Frank Luntz -- another one of "ours," sir -- says: "It's an electoral disaster. This is potent because it legitimizes all the Democratic attacks of the past three years that the President isn't paying attention."

The Wall Street Journal is suggesting that you can no longer expect to get everything you want from Congress when it comes to money for defense. "Deficit pressures, scandals involving defense contracts, congressional unease with administration bookkeeping for war costs" -- along with the "increased unpopularity" of both you and your antiterrorism policies -- "are combining to end defense spending's status as the budget's sacred cow," the Journal says. Earlier this week, Senate Budget Committee chairman Judd Gregg -- another Republican, sir -- agreed to shift $5 billion from your request for defense and foreign affairs funds to health, education and border security.


Bloomberg News says the flap over the Dubai Ports World deal is "exposing deteriorating relations" between you and your "fellow Republicans" and "underscoring a perception of incompetence stemming from the government's response to Hurricane Katrina." Sen. Rick Santorum -- another Republican, sir -- says that that your administration "didn't handle this very well." The Democrats are gloating. "Any political observer will tell you that any development that lessens or negates the Republican advantage on security is a good thing for Democrats, which is why they will keep talking about it," said Joe Lockhart. You remember him, sir. He was the press secretary for Bill Clinton, a man who enjoyed job approval ratings of about 60 percent at this stage of his presidency.

Good news, sir? Sure. The bad press won't last. As E.J. Dionne wrote earlier this week, the press, in the interest of "fairness," is already swinging back to trash-the-Democrats stories. "It is now an ingrained journalistic habit," Dionne wrote. "After a period of bad news for President Bush, media outlets invariably devote time and space to 'balancing' stories that all say more or less: 'Yes, the Republicans are in trouble, but the Democrats have no alternatives, no plans,' etc." So hang on, Mr. President. Last time we checked, Adam Nagourney was still working for the Times.

Tim Grieve

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

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