Monday, August 22, 2005

The Dregs of Summer. (Politically Speaking)

Congress is in recess, the President is on vacation (again), much of Washington is on the Delaware Shore, heck even The Note is away. So there is little, or nothing going on in Washington. Cindy Sheehan and how hard the Democrats will blast away at John Roberts are the only stories that seem to make any waves.

So I can't decide if the bad news that Bush has been getting is the result of too much navel-gazing, when there is little else to look at, or if it is the tip of a much larger wave that could be brewing just out-a-sight.

Here is some of the bad news which you may have missed while enjoying the summer. (But I guarantee these items haven't been missed by Karl Rove):

- Bush's latest national approval rating is 36% (from American Research Group). 36% is about a low as you can go, 36% is Nixon right before he resigned numbers, Jimmy Carter right after he got attacked by the Killer Rabbit. And remember this is a guy who got 51% of the vote less than 10 months ago. He is only getting 77% of Republicans, and without that bedrock support, he would be in the 20's.

- Bush has a 50%+ approval rating in 7 states, and a net positive rating in only 10 (Survey USA). Net negative states include: Kansas (46% approve/50% disapprove); Florida (44/53); Missouri (38/58); Ohio (37/60) and even South Carolina (45/51). When a Republican President can't get net positive ratings in South Carolina, there is a problem. 2006 elections are not that far off, and a state like Ohio looks like a potential disaster for Republicans.

- Bob Novak is taking on the White House for not being political enough! (Or at least not protecting its supporters.)

- Iraq seems as much as a mess as ever, and an Iraqi Constitution that sets the framework for an Islamic Republic will be the last straw for many. (And the apparent proposed Constitution is a potential disaster according to Steven Taylor.) The situation is bad enough for Sen. Hagel to compare it to Vietnam and conservative supporters like Andy McCarthy to abandon ship altogether.

- Some Conservative supporters (blog wise) are beginning to wonder if their support of Bush has actually meant anything in the big picture. Professor Bainbridge is frustrated about "What Might Have Been." His thoughts were seconded by LaShawn Barber. Even those thoughtful conservative bloggers who have disagreed with Bainbridge acknowledge some frustration with the Administration: OTB; Steven Taylor ; Decision 08; and even Right Wing Nuthouse (a little bit).

- Gas prices continue to rise, and bring with it the specter of inflation.

- And the White House apparently thinks that Social Security reform is still on the table, deciding they should simply ignore all the polling data they got this spring during the President's disastrous attempts to drum up national support.

There may be a bright spot or two on the horizon for the White House (Robert's probable confirmation, another estate tax fight, Democrats continued inability to make gains), plus it is the summer and navel-gazing is at a high. But Bush has been in a freefall since this spring, and nothing he does seems to change the dynamics. (Aren't we due for a terror alert increase?)

I do not underestimate the WH's abilities, or the Democrats ability to fail to take advantages when they appear, but at some point, the numbers reach a point where even Republicans will have to put some distance between themselves and the White House -- for their own political survival. And that point may be coming sooner rather than later.

36% approval? It is possible for anyone to effectively govern with numbers so low? It will certainly make the fall very interesting!