Tuesday, February 28

THE PRESIDENT'S POPULARITY WANES -- IS INSULARITY A CULPRIT?

Frank Laughter of Common Sense Junction has his finger on the pulse in terms of the president's waning popularity and suggests between the lines that George W. Bush's penchant for insularity and habitual stubborness has caught up with him, both within the GOP's ranks and across the American heartland.

The president won re-election in 2004 largely on the basis of his leadership in the global war on terror (GWOT), which was cast in stark contrast during the campaign to the ever-vascillating, bumptiously "reporting for duty," John Kerry. But, George Bush cannot have it both ways. You cannot heighten Americans' concern about another "9/11"-type strike at our homeland, while at the same time allowing our nation's borders to remain scandously porous. And I'm not referring here just to our contiguous borders with Canada and Mexico. Our borders also include our east and west coasts, which are made particularly vulnerable by the off-loading at our ports of millions of domestic and foreign shipping containers that are only negligibly inspected (i.e., in the range of just 3% to 5%).

To borrow from the name of Frank Laughter's blog, it's all about common sense and Americans possess that in bushel baskets. But an insular president seems to have lost sight of that. He didn't just threaten the Congress the other day with a veto. In his characteristic swagger, the president threatened to veto Americans' common sense.

In offending an incredulous base (e.g., Harriet Miers' nomination to the SCOTUS) and disbelieving Americans at large (e.g., Portgate), the president has become in 2006 a tin ear caricature of his splendid first-term persona. And it's a shame. His political capital has been near exhausted and his second term is taking on every appearance of that of an inept lame duck.

James Joyner points to a dismal report card and draws from it the following conclusion: "The bottom line is that, even if the CBS poll is junk, it draws attention to something that is undisputed: President Bush has lost the confidence of a substantial portion of the general public."

And, to be sure, when a two-term, conservative Republican president, who has predicated the efficacy of his presidency on the war in Iraq, loses the imprimatur of the leader of the American Conservative Movement, that president can ill afford the impolitic decision (rather than the purely business decision) of installing a UAE-owned company into the day-to-day operations of 22 of America's ports in wartime.

It's just plain bad "strategery," Mr. President.


FOLLOW-UP: Frank Laughter amplifies his current view of the Bush administration in this post. An excerpt follows:

Whatever Bush’s motive for going into Iraq, the war has diverted public attention from such vulnerabilities as our borders, seaports, nuclear power plants, airlines, railways, trains, waterways, food supplies, cities, bridges, tunnels and other infra-structures. That’s the perception, whether accurate or not, and Bush has shown no interest in correcting it. In fact, his public conduct has been just the opposite. As it goes now, he’s on course to become the worst president since Jimmy Carter and if he surrenders sovereignty over our seaports to ANY foreign power, he’ll trump Jimmy’s surrender of the Panama Canal.


With many of his voters' perceptions of his presidency beginning to sour, President Bush had better get out of denial.