Bush and Arnie Head South
After being away for a week and slacking off by way of an East Coast vacation, let me say that it is good to see the excellent work by Mary, CA Pol Junkie, and Matt, and the news that Palamedes is coming aboard is very welcome. Let me get back into the swing of things with some short blasts on several topics that I noticed while I was gone.
First, as anecdotal information only, while we were in Manhattan we had dinner one night with a friend of the family, who just so happens to be a staffer for the RNC setting up their 2004 “Let Us Take Political Advantage Of Our Tragedy” convention. After talking for awhile about the California recall and the Clown Posse gunning for Davis’s job (more on that down below), this person mentioned that she would be out of a job after the convention was over. Since she came from the White House to take this job for the RNC, I remarked (in an effort to see what reaction I got from her) that she could simply return to Washington and get a position with the Administration for the remainder of the term and (laughingly said) for a second term. To my surprise, she responded with “well, we’re not so sure.” Before I had a chance to follow up, she volunteered “we’ve been watching Howard Dean lately.”
Make of that what you will.
Second, as Mary and others have noted her since I went on vacation, things are not going well for Bush in Iraq, and more importantly, for Bush with Americans here at home. According to a just-released Newsweek poll over the weekend, Bush’s numbers are tumbling over his handling of Iraq from where they were just months ago.
Sixty-nine percent of Americans polled say they are very concerned (40 percent) or somewhat concerned (29 percent) that the United States will be bogged down for many years in Iraq without making much progress in achieving its goals. Just 18 percent say they’re confident that a stable, democratic form of government can take shape in Iraq over the long term; 37 percent are somewhat confident. Just 13 percent say U.S. efforts to establish security and rebuild Iraq have gone very well since May 1, when combat officially ended; 39 percent say somewhat well.
Nearly half of respondents, 47 percent, say they are very concerned that the cost of maintaining troops in Iraq will lead to a large budget deficit and seriously hurt the U.S. economy. And 60 percent of those polled say the estimated $1 billion per week that the United States is spending is too much and the country should scale back its efforts. One-third supports the current spending levels for now, but just 15 percent of those polled say they would support maintaining the current spending levels for three years or more.
Significantly, Bush has lost the voters now on all domestic issues.
The biggest shift in opinion, however, comes in Bush’s handling of non-terror issues. A plurality of voters now think the Democratic leaders in Congress have a better approach to dealing with the economy, tax cuts, healthcare, education, social security, the environment and energy policy. In January 2002, more thought Bush had the best approach to handling all the issues above, except the environment.
Forty-five percent of respondents now think the Democratic party leaders are doing a better job of finding ways to stimulate the economy (36 percent say Bush is)—a huge shift from January 2002, when 55 percent thought Bush was better on the economy and just 29 percent thought Congressional Democrats were. Over the past year-and-a-half, Americans have also shifted their views of Bush’s tax cuts—45 percent prefer his cuts to those supported by Democratic leaders now, but that’s down 12 percent from January 2002.
Nearly half of those polled (47 percent) say Democratic leaders have the best approach to health care (31 percent say Bush does), a flip from January 2002, when 45 percent preferred Bush’s approach and 36 percent liked the Democrats’. Bush has lost the most support for his handling of education issues. Just 39 percent prefer his approach now—down 16 percent from January 2002. Forty-three percent say the Democrats are now doing the better job in their approach to education issues.
Similarly, more Americans (45 percent) say Democrats have the better approach to handling Social Security issues. About one-third (32 percent) say Bush has the best approach to Social Security, down 12 points from January 2002. On the environment, 53 percent prefer the Democrats’ approach, while 29 percent support Bush’s handling of environmental issues versus 43 percent and 38 percent respectively in January 2002. Finally, 42 percent of Americans prefer the Democrats’ approach to energy policy, while 33 percent say Bush is doing a better job on the issue (versus 33 percent and 46 percent respectively in January 2002).
Moreover, the ongoing problems in Iraq and the jobless recovery are dragging Bush’s approval ratings down towards pre-9/11 levels, and more of those polled now are against his return to office in 2004 than those who support it.
Against this backdrop, President George W. Bush’s approval ratings continue to decline. His current approval rating of 53 percent is down 18 percent from April. And for the first time since the question was initially asked last fall, more registered voters say they would not like to see him re-elected to another term as president (49 percent) than re-elected. Forty-four percent would favor giving Bush a second term; in April, 52 percent backed Bush for a second term and 38 percent did not.
Note that not only the Newsweek poll shows that Bush is now losing to an unnamed Democrat, but also the most recent Zogby poll released late last week shows the same thing.
Note also that inside the Newsweek poll is a growing level of distrust amongst voters over the lies and claims made by the Bushies in selling the war. The same poll shows that more and more voters feel that the Iraq war has done nothing to reduce the threat to Americans from terrorism, and may have in fact increased that threat.
Third, in one of the most outrageous things that this already outrage-overload administration has done, the EPA under White House pressure intentionally misled emergency workers and New Yorkers about the dangers to their health from doing post-9/11 rescue and cleanup work.
Fourth, another piece of the White House’s justification for the Iraq war, Saddam’s alleged capability to launch WMD-carrying drones fell apart today when it was admitted after searching for months that Iraq had no such capability after all.
Fifth, Tony Blair was up to his ass in the demise of scientist David Kelly.
Sixth, you of course knew that the company responsible for the power fluctuations that were at the heart of the Northeast power outage recently not only has a bad record in such matters, but also is a good friend of one George W. Bush, didn’t you?
Gary Hart may jump back into the US Senate by challenging Colorado GOP Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell in 2004.
Lastly, California Republicans are now panicking because Arnold’s poll numbers are dropping and support for current Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante is going up, according to the Los Angeles Times. Even though failed gubernatorial candidate Bill Simon dropped out of the Clown Posse yesterday, the truth is that Bustamante has reached a crucial thirty-five percent barrier amongst likely voters. Unless Arnold can corral all conservative/GOP voters and attract independents, or unless Bustamante makes a major mistake, the race is looking better for the Democrats than it did just a week ago.
And Arnold’s ability to be a credible candidate will continue to deteriorate the more he ducks answering questions on how he plans to close a $8-10 billion deficit next year by cutting taxes and protecting education. Even some normally GOP-leaning groups are questioning Arnold’s truthfulness. Keith Ashdown of Taxpayers for Common Sense, which normally is a center-right group that scrutinizes government spending as an anti-waste advocate, comes out blasting this weekend about Schwarzenegger’s attempts to get elected without specifically telling voters how he would close the deficit, and gets a shot in at Bush while doing it.
The "Running Man" says he will balance the budget, but when asked about specifics he says he won't cut popular programs, such as K-12 education, and won't look for new ways to raise revenue for his cash-depleted state. The only commitment the Schwarzenegger camp has made is to hire a private auditor to review the state's finances and recommend budget cuts. As a budget watchdog, we like the idea of cutting wasteful spending. But, this promise sounds more like a delay tactic to keep from coming clean about the tough deficit-erasing choices that lie ahead. Plus, someone might want to let Arnie know that there is already a government agency responsible for this task.
The pumped up rhetoric of you can have your cake and eat it too sounds awfully similar to President Bush's big government conservative rhetoric. Let's not forget what happened to the federal deficit after the President drained federal revenue and then said we can pay for education, a new prescription drug plan, the war in Iraq, and homeland security.
It’s always good to return from vacation with such good news all around.