A Poll’s Black and Blue Marks
Pierre Tristam/Candide’s Notebooks, November 2, 2006
Hard to think that there was a time 90 percent of America approved of the way President Bush was “handling” terrorism. That was in December 2001, his Christmas present by way of Osama. The latest New York Times/CBS poll has that approval down to 44 percent, second-lowest of his presidency (he had a 43 percent last February), with 48 percent disapproving of his handling of terrorism. His own overall approval rating is down to 34, almost matching his lowest mark of 31 in May. This, despite being in campaign mode, stumping left and right, appearing on local and national broadcasts every evening, and all at taxpayer expense. The guy can’t buy approval with our own dime. Asked whether they thought the nation was on the right or wrong track, just 29 percent said the country was on the right track, and most of those are in Utah, where news tends to take a few years to register. An incredible 64 percent think the country is on the wrong track—an astounding number, when you contrast it to White House rhetoric (and government data) about a strong economy, low unemployment and inflation, and allegedly low taxes: you can’t fool people for six years in a row. Incidentally, 29 percent is also the approval rating of Congress, not quite as low as the 19 percent approval the Newt Gingrich Congress managed in June 1996.
The deception of the response is revealed when respondents are asked about their own congressman: 58 percent still approve, a figure basically in line with where it’s been for the last three decades—or, if anything, higher than it’s been in the last few years. It’s the my-congressman-can-beat-your-congressman syndrome, proving once again that when it comes to parochialism, Americans are kings. Here was the question of the poll: “Of all the problems facing this country today, which one do you want the new Congress to concentrate on first?” Same-sex marriage, 2 percent (again, that’s Utah’s Sunni Triangle-equivalent vote); Social Security, 1 percent (!), poverty, 2 percent, jobs and education, 3 percent each, terrorism just 4 percent (4 percent), defense, the economy, health care, 5 percent each (interesting that defense and health care get the same response: people are onto the military-industrial complex’s medical corollary). Immigration, 8 percent (that’s all the bigots who have no more “negroes” to bash around, at least not openly, so Mexicans have come in handy). And Iraq? 34 percent.
Bush still manages to get 38 percent giving him approval for the way he’s handling the economy, but when asked specifically about the economy, 59 percent say good or fairly good, though 38 percent think it’s getting worse, and just 16 percent think it’s improving. Now, for all the heartache over Iraq, here’s why it won’t mean much in the end: when asked whether they want hearings about the handling of the Iraq war after the election, 39 percent said yes; 59 percent said not necessary. And 44 percent still think the United States did the right thing in taking military action in Iraq. Lessons learned? Hardly. Thank heavens for the Twenty-Second Amendment, because if Bush was running again, he’d find a way to get re-elected. By all means necessary.