Friday, February 13, 2004

Bush hurting now, Teflon wears thin

The Christian Science Monitor writes that the popularity of the war has fallen to all time low. The article includes some testimonials of former conservative pundits that have turned on the President as his actions have alienated on a variety of issues his core base.

Bill Oreilly
Conservative broadcaster Bill O'Reilly this week said he had been wrong to accept official claims that Saddam Hussein's regime had weapons of mass destruction. "I think all Americans should be concerned about this," said Mr. O'Reilly of Fox News, who pronounced himself "much more skeptical about the Bush administration now."

Peggy Noonan
Peggy Noonan, a speechwriter for former President Ronald Reagan, described Bush's interview as "not impressive." "He did not seem prepared," Ms. Noonan wrote on the Wall Street Journal website. "He seemed in some way disconnected from the event."

The CSM article pinpoints the issue as a growing "credibility gap". (The term credibility gap was first applied during the Vietnam-era Johnson Administration.) Quoting the CSM:

"The overriding issue is the expectation-reality mismatch," says retired Air Force Col. Sam Gardiner, who teaches at the National Defense University. "The war was supposed to be quick. We were supposed to be greeted as liberators. It was to pay for itself with oil revenues. And we were supposed to find chemical and biological weapons."

The WaPo has this very interesting graph showing how Bush is showing poor poll numbers. It doesn't help that the Democrats are "killing" Bush over domestic issues right now. Bush seems pretty vulnerable right now, even with his oppo researchers targeting Kerry and trying to find chinks in his armor (links via Daniel Drezner).

It's not over until it's over though. There's allot of time until the November elections, and anything could happen including a major domestic terrorist loss of life. Imagine waking up on Valentine's day 2004 reading about ricin poision striking Los Vegas, Los Angeles, and Atlantic City municipal water supplies. The victims would experience the horrors of "severe gastrointestinal symptoms followed by vascular collapse and death." Alternatively, we could nab ole Bin Ladin suddenly (Time Magazine). Wouldn't that be a pop in Bush's ratings!

In addition, the Bush Administration could always attempt to turn the topic toward war.


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