March 14, 2006

Bush ratings headed down again, and it's all the paleocons' fault

As the helpful Pollkatz graph shows, the natural trend of George W. Bush's approval ratings is down, except when helpful events intrude (9/11, the Iraq invasion, and the capture of Saddam). One exception is that Bush's rating rose gradually during the 2004 election campaign when the public could compare him to the unappealing John F. Kerry.

Then, they fluttered upwards slightly from a low base around the last New Year's. I assumed that there was a hard core of Bush supporters. But now they're going back down, perhaps because Bush has lately made so explicit his invade-the-world-invite-the-world philosophy, which alienates his hard core base. The NYT said:

The president who made pre-emption and going it alone the watchwords of his first term is quietly turning in a new direction, warning at every opportunity of the dangers of turning the nation inward and isolationist, and making the case for international engagement on issues from national security to global economics.

President Bush's cautions on the dangers of pulling back behind American borders — in trade and investment, in immigration and in his effort to make the spread of democracy the signature of his second term — first cropped up in his State of the Union address six weeks ago.

But it accelerated even before the Dubai ports deal was derailed by members of his own party, and before an unexpected uprising began among some neo-conservatives, who are now arguing that Iraq, while a noble effort, has turned into a failed mission that must be abandoned.

In interviews over the past week, Mr. Bush's aides, insisting on anonymity, they say, because they do not want to worsen the fissures, say they fear that the new mood threatens to undermine the international agenda for the rest of Mr. Bush's presidency.

"We're seeing it in everything," said one of Mr. Bush's closest aides last week. "Iraq. The ferocity of an irrational argument over the ports. Guest workers. China and India."

In "Cantankerous Conservatism. . . replaces compassionate conservatism, at least for a moment" in the Weekly Standard, Cheerleader-in-chief Fred Barnes blames Bush's deterioration on the damn paleonconservatives for being, well, right. Clark Stooksbury sums the article up:

What really upsets Barnes is criticism of his heartthrob. Paleos:

Attack Bush on issue after issue. This weakens the Republican base and, potentially at least, reduces voter turnout. Republican voters dismiss criticism by Democrats or the media, but they pay attention when other Republicans zing Bush, or when they attack congressional Republicans, for that matter.

What delusional drivel. Republican rule isn't threatened by the years of cynicism, corruption and incompetence. It's Pat Buchanan's Fault.

Daniel Larison responds in "Barnes: GOP Should Be the Party of Immigration, Imperialism and Insolvency."

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

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