The Happy Leftie

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Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Pew is right! Bush stinks almost as bad as Nixon


In the aftermath of the Dubai ports deal, President Bush's approval rating has hit a new low and his image for honesty and effectiveness has been damaged. Yet the public uncharacteristically has good things to say about the role that Congress played in this high-profile Washington controversy.

Most Americans (58%) believe Congress acted appropriately in strenuously opposing the deal, while just 24% say lawmakers made too much of the situation. While there is broad support for the way Congress handled the dispute, more Americans think Democratic leaders showed good judgment on the ports issue than say the same about GOP leaders (by 30%-20%).

The new Pew survey underscores the public's alarm over the prospect that an Arab-owned company could have operated U.S. ports. Fully 41% say they paid very close attention to news about the debate, which is unusually high interest for a Washington story and is only slightly lower than the number tracking Iraq war news very closely (43%). There was broad opposition to the proposed deal from across the political spectrum, including two-to-one disapproval among conservative Republicans (56%-27%).

Bush's overall approval measure stands at 33%, the lowest rating of his presidency. Bush's job performance mark is now about the same as the ratings for Democratic and Republican congressional leaders (34% and 32%, respectively), which showed no improvement in spite of public approval of the congressional response to the ports deal.

The president's ratings for handling of several specific issues, particularly terrorism, have also declined sharply. Just 42% now approve of Bush's job in handling terrorist threats, an 11-point drop since February. In January 2005, as Bush was starting his second term, 62% approved of his handling of terrorist threats.

Bush's personal image also has weakened noticeably, which is reflected in people's one-word descriptions of the president. Honesty had been the single trait most closely associated with Bush, but in the current survey "incompetent" is the descriptor used most frequently (See pp. 7-8). %0