January 18, 2009

Vortex..Can't Avoid...Help Me...

Hep me, hep me, I'm being sucked into the vortex of politics! I made the mistake of watching This Week today and I'll never understand how journalists over the age of 18 can be surprised by the phenomenon of volatile presidential approval ratings.

There was much lamentation and beating of breasts on the panel over the fact that GWB had a rating of 90%+ after 9/11, and now leaves office with the lowest in history. Matthew Dowd thought it tragic but how could it be otherwise? Just as housing bubbles and oil speculation bubbles eventually burst leaving foreclosures and $40 a barrel oil in its place, so too do high presidential ratings. Does anyone else recall that George Herbert Walker Bush had an approval rating of 90% after the conclusion of the Gulf War and then lost the election a year later? Did #41 change, or did the media coverage and people's perception of him change? For a media type like Dowd to lament Bush's low approval ratings is sort of like a wife abuser being shocked at the sight of his wife's bruises.

George Will pointed to two names as the cause of Bush's unpopularity: Terri Schiavo and Harriet Miers. Which perfectly explains the cause of Bush's unpopularity with George Will, but I'm doubtful of its universal applicability. The Miers blip was something all of five people now remember, a misstep that GWB quickly fixed. (Apparently the blame GWB crowd thinks he is to be blamed not only for real blunders but potential ones.) With Schiavo, for the life of me I don't understand how GWB's signing a bill that was passed by the Senate by unanimous consent was somehow controversial, other than media types took offense that he interrupted his vacation to do so.

What Bush's low popularity ratings reflect are three things:
  • an unpopular war
  • a very hostile media
  • an unwillingness to defend himself and/or go directly to the American people
  • The fact that the panel on This Week (with the exception of Gwen Ifill), didn't get that shows why the only institution with the same low approval ratings as George Bush is....(drumroll)... the media.

    5 comments:

    HokiePundit said...

    I don't know if Miers would have been a good Justice or not, but I can see how he might think it a good idea to have an Evangelical on the Court, especially when the Rehnquist Court had four Catholics, a Lutheran, an Episcopalian, a Jew, and (IIRC) an agnostic: only the first of these is even a sizeable minority, and is still (and moreso now) heavily over-represented. To be properly representative (which I know isn't its function at all), there should be at least four Evangelical members and probably two Catholics.

    Still, I agree that Harriet Miers is pretty close to the bottom of mis-steps likely to come up if one were to take a poll.

    smockmomma said...

    For a media type like Dowd to lament Bush's low approval ratings is sort of like a wife abuser being shocked at the sight of his wife's bruises.

    perfect.

    TS said...

    when the Rehnquist Court had four Catholics, a Lutheran, an Episcopalian, a Jew, and (IIRC) an agnostic

    Sounds like the set-up to a joke. So there was a Catholic, a Lutheran and an Episcopalian who walked up to the bar (or took the bar)...

    which I know isn't its function at all

    Eggsactly! Much agree. I'd rather have nine good justices than nine Catholic ones.

    Smock: thanks! It's so ironic that Dowd didn't see the connection between a Bush-hating media and low approval ratings!

    Your humble author said...

    (1) You might find this article on the public's/press' feelings about Bush interesting.

    (2) Commenting available on TSO's blog? Thank you God.

    Roz

    TS said...

    Welcome, welcome Roz! Good to hear from you. I'll check out that link. "Bush hatred: disease or business?" is O'Reilly's question.