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Spare Change
by Lee

I’ve said a hundred times recently that President Bush took the political capital he had rightly earned with his reelection and has totally pissed it away.  And article at MSNBC makes the same point.

Bush has had a hard time persuading Congress to go along with his agenda, in part because surveys show that much of the public has soured on him and his priorities. In the most recent Washington Post poll, taken last month, 47 percent of Americans approved of Bush’s performance, tying the lowest marks he ever received in that survey, back in mid-2004, when Democrats were airing tens of millions of dollars’ worth of campaign attack ads.

Similarly, just 31 percent approved of his handling of Social Security, an all-time low in the Post poll, while only 40 percent gave him good marks for his stewardship of the economy and 42 percent for his management of Iraq, both ratings close to the lowest ever recorded in those areas. Other surveys have recorded similar findings, with Bush’s approval rating as low as 43 percent.

Such weakness has unleashed the first mutterings of those dreaded second-term words, “lame duck,” however premature it might be with 3 1/2 years left in his tenure. “The Democrats are doing everything they can to make this president a lame duck,” Republican consultant Ed Rollins complained on Fox News on Friday. William Kristol, editor of the conservative Weekly Standard, wrote recently about “the impression — and the reality — of disarray” in urging Bush to wage a strong fight for the nomination of John R. Bolton as U.N. ambassador.

“He’s not a lame duck yet, but there are rumblings,” said Robert Dallek, a presidential historian. Dallek said Bush’s recent travails remind him of Franklin D. Roosevelt, who overreached in his second term by trying to pack the Supreme Court, a move that backfired. “Second terms are treacherous, and presidents enter into a minefield where they really must shepherd their credibility and political capital,” he said.

While Bush undoubtedly had a solid win, he charged forward as if he had an unquestioned mandate from the people, which he did not.  The Schiavo case hurt him badly, and he’s done a poor job pushing his Social Security reform message.  He can still come back, but it’s going to take some shrewd politicking on his part.

Posted by Lee on 05/31/05 at 03:17 PM (Discuss this in the forums)

Comments


Posted by sneaky_pete on 05/31/05 at 04:36 PM from United States

Time for Karl Rove to work some more magic!

Posted by on 05/31/05 at 04:38 PM from United States

Yeah.  Expect some “Orange Alerts” in the next few weeks.

Posted by on 05/31/05 at 04:42 PM from United States

Bush needs to be a better communicator. A lot of his ideas are good, like social security reform, but he hasn’t persuaded the masses. Sneaky pete is right. It might require some Karl Rove magic.

Posted by on 05/31/05 at 04:43 PM from United States

Hi,

Well, I’m not so sure you could call his win last year “Solid”.  Kerry did get a large portion of votes.  Bush’s win wasn’t like Reagans over Mondale.
I digress.  In my opinion, Lee, you are right on about Social Security and The Schiavo case.  These things, while important, just aren’t priorities in the minds of a majority of americans.  He needs to Focus on Iraq/War on Terror and the Economy.

Posted by on 05/31/05 at 04:47 PM from United States

mike,

Bush won by popular majority. That’s better than Clinton ever did and better than his last win. Anytime a president wins a popular majority it can be called “solid.” Lee was careful to state that Bush’s 51% was not a mandate.

Posted by on 05/31/05 at 04:59 PM from United States

Does anyone even think that catching Bin Laden could help Bush’s numbers?  I think it might even be beyond that.. He’s definately hurting his legacy.  Unless we have another national tragedy I don’t see his numbers increasing anytime soon.

Posted by on 05/31/05 at 05:05 PM from United States

Second terms are almost always disappointing.  Both parties immediately start setting themsleves up for the next primary season which starts just after the mid term election.  So pandering to party base is all the rage.  Bush, but to be fair, mostly the Republicans in congress kicked up a stink about Terry Schiavo to position themselves for the faithful.  The Democrats have pretty much decieded that shutting down the Senate will not harm them, and there is really precious little GW can do.  He can raise Social Security but he can’t force the Democrats to get in the ring with him.  Second terms used to be for presidents to spend overseas and appointing judges (which no longer seems acceptable).

Posted by on 05/31/05 at 05:10 PM from United States

Franklin D. Roosevelt, who overreached in his second term by trying to pack the Supreme Court, a move that backfired.

but FDR did get elected for an unprecedented 3rd term, so the people are very forgiving, as long as the president doesn’t give up, and he keeps fighting for something.  That’s Bush’s problem right now, it looks like he’s just treating this period like his senior year of high school.

Posted by Brian at Tomfoolery on 05/31/05 at 05:26 PM from United States

Bush has them right where they want them.

Lee, you should know better.  Tony Blair just won re-election, and all we read was about how he has no support and his party wants him to resign soon.  You knew months ago that Bush would be called ineffective and weak soon after he was re-elected.

Posted by sneaky_pete on 05/31/05 at 05:32 PM from United States

Does anyone even think that catching Bin Laden could help Bush’s numbers?

A lot of people think he’s already dead, and their evidence is convincing.  Go ahead, Google it.

Posted by on 05/31/05 at 05:42 PM from United States

Bush needs to be a better communicator. A lot of his ideas are good, like social security reform.

What part of private accounts reforms SS? Last I saw he floated a single idea by proxy, and that was progressive indexing which fucks the middle class… I don’t see that passing congress anytime soon.

Posted by on 05/31/05 at 10:36 PM from United States

I wonder if Bush ever really had a mandate for any domestic policy. It seems his mandate was to win the war on terror and appease the religious right; which he already went to far in. Was there much else he got a convincing mandate for?

Tony Blair just won re-election, and all we read was about how he has no support and his party wants him to resign soon.

Tony Blair did not win re-election, (well he did as an MP) the labour government won re-election. Tony Blair is not a President, apart from his consistancy no one votes for him.

At the moment the UK public would like to see him gone, but they certainly do not want the conservative party (our version of the Republicans but without the religious right aspect) in power; which is the only direct way to get rid of him.

Posted by Drumwaster on 05/31/05 at 10:41 PM from United States

apart from his consistancy no one votes for him.

The context suggests the word you are looking for is “constituency”.

Happy to help.

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