"Popular Wartime President" Now Forgotten
One of the key developments in the recent spate of bad poll news for Bush is that the mainstream media, which has done much in the last two years to cultivate the fallacy of Bush as a “popular wartime president”, is now very ready to dispel that myth. This story in the AP this morning, summarizing the bad polls for Bush, including an American Research Group poll that shows for the first time a higher disapproval rating (48%) than approval rating (47%) is emblematic of the coverage now.
Yet Bush’s appearance at the UN this morning, designed just as much for domestic consumption as an appeal for international help isn’t likely to help him. According to accounts, Bush’s speech was received politely, but not as warmly as French president Chirac’s following address, wherein Bush’s defiance that the transition of power to Iraqis will be "neither hurried nor delayed by the wishes of other parties” was immediately challenged by Chirac’s rebuttal and German Chancellor Schroeder’s affirmation that the transfer needs to take place “in a matter of months.” In fact, several at the UN challenged Bush.
Bush may feel that standing up against the world on Iraq makes him look strong to his base, but the polls show that increasingly such a go-it-alone stance will win him little in November 2004 from independents and swing voters, especially as we continue to alienate the Iraqi populace with stories like this. Just because the White House wants to spin the NY Times that Bush is standing tall doesn't escape the fact that the GOP is scared.
The simple fact is that the terms of the debate have changed. Members of Congress themselves, including many Republicans, are now questioning why we are spending so much money to help Iraqis unilaterally when we don't even fix similar problems here at home.
Bush has lost control of the debate, and the national security club his own party has repeatedly used will no longer carry the day. With their self-interests paramount, even the GOP will distance themselves to an increasing degree from this go-it-alone "spend overseas, cut domestically" approach. The Rovian/PNAC foreign policy is leading Bush into the same problem his father faced, one that he swore he would avoid.