Bush: Stuck in Second
As Washington shuts down for August, President Bush’s report card from the public for the first half-year of his second term is not a good one compared with how the public graded Presidents Reagan and Clinton at a similar point in time. Only President Nixon, who had by then begun to tumble into the abyss of Watergate, had a lower presidential approval rating. Unlike Nixon’s precipitous decline over one mega-problem, Mr. Bush’s fall in public esteem reflects discontent in a number of areas: Americans are unhappy about economic conditions, the war in Iraq, Washington’s intervention in the case of Terri Schiavo and general partisan bickering. In that regard, it is noteworthy that favorable ratings for Congress are lower than in the past, too.
Ultimately, scandals undermined the second terms of all three of Mr. Bush’s two-term predecessors. For now, the president has only a relatively small one in the investigation of possible White House collusion in the unauthorized outing of C.I.A. officer Valerie Plame. But according to July’s polls, Mr. Bush’s personal credibility rating, once a strong point, is slipping. Despite some recent legislative victories, this second term president could use some sustained good news to restore his public standing.
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