Response, Katrina, Iraq

This post is a response to a post on toehold. I put it here because (1) I haven't posted lately; and (2) this is an awfully long comment.

In my defence, my statement (though perhaps poorly phrased) was more to illustrate the point that, if you are protesting the current administration, you really want to concentrate on things other than just being anti-Bush. By being primarily anti-Bush, you're really hoping that people vote for your side, as opposed to not voting, voting for a third party, writing "Mickey Mouse" on the ballot, etc.

Concerning the abysmal public opinion - it appears that it might be going back up. RealClearPolitics (which is, as far as I can tell, reasonably non-partisan), lists several polls and the current approval looks to be rebounding to about 45%. Considering the pounding he took over Katrina, that's a pretty decent recovery. One does wonder what would happen if the media spent as much time recanting all the inaccurate stories of murder, rape, etc - I doubt that he would top a 50% approval rating, however. (I did read an interesting quote (transcript here) from Hugh Hewitt (partisanship aside, it's still a good point):

The central part of this story, what went on at the convention center and the Superdome was wrong. American media threw everything they had at this story, all the bureaus, all the networks, all the newspapers, everything went to New Orleans, and yet they could not get inside the convention center, they could not get inside the Superdome to dispel the lurid, the hysterical, the salaciousness of the reporting. . . .

There weren't stacks of bodies in the freezer. But America was riveted by this reporting, wholesale collapse of the media's own levees they let in all the rumors, and all the innuendo, all the first-person story because they were caught up in this own emotionalism. Exactly what Keith was praising I think led to one of the worst weeks of reporting in the history of American media, and it raises this question: If all of that amount of resources was given over to this story and they got it wrong, how can we trust American media in a place far away like Iraq where they don't speak the language, where there is an insurgency, and I think the question comes back we really can't.

Anyway, getting back to the approval rating (though the quote above might get revisited in another post), I believe that Clinton, even during the impeachment and afterwards, had an approval rating greater than 60%. Evn so, he was not used in Gore's 2000 campaign precisely because Gore was worried that Clinton would actually hurt his chances with the electorate. (Whether or not this is true is unknown - had Clinton been more involved, Gore might have won more states, or he might have lost votes.) Anyway, the point is that even a popular President can have a negative coat-tails effect. The real test will be the 2006 elections - if the President still has a low approval rating, and the Democrats can offer a positive alternative to the Republicans, they should do fairly well. If, however, the Democrats continue to maintain a more "anti-Bush" strategy, then they may not do nearly as well.


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