Bush-Cheney strategist: The president has lost his bond with the people

Matthew Dowd says the 2002 midterms were the beginning of the end.

Published February 15, 2007 5:10PM (EST)

Matthew Dowd, chief strategist for Bush-Cheney '04, says the president may finally have "lost" his "gut-level bond" with the American people.

In an upcoming issue of Texas Monthly, Dowd says that things started to go south for George W. Bush in 2002, when his party triumphed in midterm elections. "When all the levers of power in Washington became Republican, creating consensus seemed to become unnecessary at the White House," he writes.

Funny, we don't remember hearing Dowd warn voters about that back in 2002 or 2003 or 2004, when he was working so hard to get Bush elected to a second term. What we do remember is Dowd the booster and Dowd the unquestioning loyalist. Asked in September 2004 if he thought Bush was "guilty of painting a rosy picture of progress in Iraq, Dowd shot back, "Of course not."

Times change, apparently. Dowd writes that sending a "small contingent" of additional troops to Iraq now is "likely to be seen as not helpful" by voters. Instead, Dowd writes, Bush would be "much better off with the public if he said, 'This is a mess, we made mistakes, and the only way to fix it is a wholesale change.' And that could mean either a serious increase in troop strength or withdrawal."

By Tim Grieve

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

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