News Item: The White House artfully created a continuous string of events that showed the president taking care of “the people’s business.” Pictures of the president hugging a disabled child, putting his arm around an elderly flood victim, or visiting an elementary school provided a soft contrast to the harsh attacks on him.
No, the above is not a recent news story on George W. Bush. It is a piece — with names omitted — written on the eve of the 2000 Democratic Convention, explaining Bill Clinton’s handlers moved to raise his job approval numbers after the Lewinsky scandal broke. It contains one of the few instances where, in addition to mentioning Clinton’s 68 percent job approval rating, his personal rating of 21 percent is also included.
Remember, Clinton was the first president for whom pollsters separated out personal approval versus job performance. They called this phenomenon “compartmentalization,” which is another way of saying, “I wouldn’t trust my daughter with the bum but hey, my portfolio is way cool!”
Today, depending on which, if any, poll you believe, Bush’s job approval rating is anywhere between 41 and 47 percent. Not too great but not disastrous, especially when the nation’s confidence in the Congress (33%) and the media (28%) isn’t too rosy either. And, considering that Presidents Clinton and Reagan both polled under 40 percent at times, he seems in good company.
I point all this out because, like the Clintonistas, today’s media also use poll numbers to influence public opinion rather than report it. And the motive is the same: to protect their political interests when they are threatened. Why the constant reportage of George Bush’s sinking poll numbers? Because there’s panic out there, and the panic is all on the left.
There are two main reasons for this. The first is that despite the constant anti-Bush barrage, things are looking up. Here at home, with the unemployment rate at a record low and Bush’s tax cuts leading to a thriving economy, one hasn’t heard the name Herbert Hoover in months. The No Child Left Behind Act — so mischaracterized that even those on the right reviled its passage — is returning great results, especially among minority students.
In Iraq, although civilian casualties have spiked, American military fatalities have decreased as Abu Zarqawi’s thugs have changed their tactics now that it’s clear that President Bush will not be deterred from staying the course there. Their only hope now, as Iraqi forces grow in strength and efficiency, is to foment a civil war even they know they cannot win:
If…the government extends its control over the country, we will have to pack our bags and break camp for another land in which we can resume carrying the banner or in which God will choose us as martyrs for his sake.
In Afghanistan, where the al Qaeda banner once waved, recent elections were such a success that President Karzai suggested that major military activity is no longer necessary; further evidence of peace through victory. The truth is that liberals are in a race against time. As they so disastrously proved in Vietnam, the only way for the U.S. to lose a war is to not complete it. In President Bush, they’ve met their match.
And that is why the other reason for liberal media trepidation is the future. Saddam Hussein’s upcoming trial will reveal such acts of such unspeakable brutality that trumped-up charges of presidential neglect of the people of New Orleans should make even the most hardened leftist blush in shame.
The knowledge that John Roberts will be confirmed in addition to speculation on Bush’s next judicial nomination further impel the media to produce negative poll numbers, as if to imply that the president has no moral authority. The history of this gambit, which failed so miserably in the last election, should convince them of its futility, but it will not.
Even as another court in California decrees the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional, as “peace mom” Cindy Sheehan declares the military has “occupied” New Orleans and Louis Farrakhan says the president purposely blew up the levees to exterminate the black population there, the liberal media actually believe that the president’s typically low summer poll numbers suggest that the people are on their side.
This self-delusion and its consequences may explain why the president’s party now controls two branches of government and, if the constitutional process is allowed to work, may reconstitute the third. This, of course, is the result of their winning the only polls that really count.
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