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:
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.
an unpopular war a very hostile media an unwillingness to defend himself and/or go directly to the American people