Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Is "success" a failure for Bush?

Is "success" a failure for Bush?

Why are George W. Bush's approval ratings sinking to all-time lows
There are plenty of explanations: Bush's decision to enter the Terri
Schiavo fray, his devotion to a Social Security that the public doesn't
want, rising gas prices and worries about inflation, and the "are you
still there?" ambivalence Americans sometimes show toward second-term

Today's Christian Science Monitor
says it may
be all of those things, but then it offers another plausible
explanation: With the war in Iraq off the front pages, Americans may
not be thinking of Bush as their "war-time president" anymore. The
Monitor says that "progress in Iraq, starting with the holding of
elections, hasn't provided the kind of polling dividends Bush might
have expected. In fact, it's possible that the perception of success
and the spread of democracy in Iraq works against Bush in the way his
father, the first President Bush, failed to turn his own success in the
first Gulf War into victory come reelection time." Marshall Whitman, a
senior fellow at the Democratic Leadership Council, tells the Monitor
that, once Bush is "no longer seen as a struggling wartime commander,
the public focuses on more perhaps mundane matters, such as the price
of gas."

If that's what's happening, it shouldn't come as much of a surprise.
While voters in 2004 viewed Bush as a stronger military leader than
John Kerry, they didn't much like the direction in which Bush was
leading them otherwise. Six weeks before the election, an NBC News/Wall
Street Journal poll showed that
only nine percent of the electorate wanted a second Bush term to be "a
lot like" his first. Nearly 60 percent said Bush should make "major
changes" in his second term.

If Bush has made major changes -- and promoting your fiercest
loyalists to new jobs doesn't count -- we haven't seen them. But then,
Bush never promised big changes in a second term, either. In many ways,
his re-election campaign was all about the opposite. The question to
ponder is not why Bush hasn't changed, but why voters who suddenly find
themselves so disappointed ever thought that he would.