Thursday :: Dec 8, 2005

Bush, Speaking To Empty Chairs, Tries To Talk Rosy About Iraq And The Economy

by Steve

Another terrible bombing in Baghdad today

Remember the speech Bush gave yesterday at the Council on Foreign Relations, the one in which he was credited by some members of the press for being more candid than normal in admitting the adjustments the White House has had to make in its Iraqi security and reconstruction programs? Unfortunately for Bush, he shouldn't have used Mosul and Najaf as his examples of improvement. It’s also too bad that not that many people cared to hear it.

After sticking mainly to friendly military settings in recent months, Bush chose a more skeptical audience yesterday in addressing the Council on Foreign Relations, a nonpartisan organization of diplomats, academics and journalists, many of whom oppose his Iraq policy.
The White House was not allowed to hang its usual slogans, such as "Plan for Victory," behind the presidential lectern. At the same time, Bush refused to honor the council tradition of taking questions from the audience, as Vice President Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and others have done.
Only a few hundred members showed up for the hastily organized event at a Washington hotel and empty chairs were removed from the back of the ballroom before Bush arrived. The audience interrupted Bush for applause only once during the speech and even then, many, if not most, did not clap. There was polite applause when he finished.

Well, when you step out of the bubble and beyond the safe crowds at military installations, I guess you have to expect that things will get tougher. Face it, this White House is in a holding pattern until after the elections this month, hoping that things don’t get any worse, while taking advantage of the rise in consumer confidence from falling gas prices to rush out and take credit for the economy. Talking a little tougher on Iraq and the fall in gas prices has pushed up Bush’s overall approval ratings to the 40% range in both the CBS News and the Quinnipiac polls this week, based largely on an increase in the base’s ratings of Bush on the economy. But his Iraq numbers are still bad (check the numbers in the Q-poll on Iraq), and when the full effect of the skyrocketing home heating oil bills and natural gas bills hit more households in the coming weeks, it isn’t clear how well his numbers on the economy or his approval ratings will hold up either. So it makes sense for the White House to talk tough on Iraq and take credit for the economy while they can, whistling past the graveyard until Patrick Fitzgerald drops the next shoe.

Steve :: 8:06 AM :: Comments (9) :: TrackBack (0) :: Digg It!