Must we resign ourselves to 4 more years?

Maybe not. And that’s not idealistic windmill-chasing, it’s just what the latest numbers show:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Most Americans now believe the Iraq war was not worth it, according to CBS News/New York Times poll released on Thursday which showed a sharp fall in public confidence in President Bush’s ability to handle foreign and economic policy issues.

The poll found new lows for Bush’s foreign policy performance, which garnered just a 44 percent approval rating. Among respondents, 50 percent lacked confidence in his ability to handle an international crisis and 53 percent said they now believed the Iraq war was not worth it.

Bush’s overall job approval rating was just above 50 percent, almost back to the level before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and down sharply from his 89 percent approval rating after the attacks, the poll said.

It’s really sad it’s come to this, because I wondered at times whether getting rid of Saddam may — may — have been worth the effort, (a belief I discarded almost immediately after the war started), and at that moment when we were told “Mission Accomplished,” it really looked as though we were about to pull it off. But in light of how Bush has handled things since that infamous Top Gun landing, I can’t generate much sympathy for him. What’s followed the invasion ever since has been disappointment of startling proportions. (Not just the Iraqi quagmire, but the greed and the scandals and sweet deals for Bush friends.)

Meanwhile, Sully is running around like a chicken with his head cut off, trying to convince us all just how damning David Kay’s report really is. But note the change in his language; it’s all WMD “programs” now, not WMDs themselves. What a different tone from just 6 months ago, when he made it sound as though ready-to-launch Iraqi weapons (not future “programs”) posed an awful and imminent threat.

This sort of casuistry is so unconvincing, it’s almost embarrassing. Luckily, the public has caught on; I have, too. So have lots of others who felt the war was justified, like Josh Marshall and Mark Kleiman and Michael Kinsley. It’s heartening to see that the general public has woken up, if a little late.

A lot can happen between now and Election Day so predictions are pretty worthless. But it sure looks better for the Democrats now than it did the day Bush made his idiotic landing on the aircraft carrier. From the same Reuters article cited above:

Landing on the carrier, declaring the conflict over, this Romanesque sort of victory parade, certainly did raise the stakes,” historian James T. Smith told CBS News. “And now those expectations are falling because people are seeing that the Iraq situation is not going according to plan.”

The poll found most Americans are critical of Bush’s ability to handle both foreign and domestic problems, and a majority said the president does not share their priorities.

What a difference three months can make.

The Discussion: 7 Comments

However, as I mentioned in comments below, the Rs have an enormous fundraising advantage, something like $4 for every $1 the Ds have at their disposal. So ultimately, even if Li’l George’s re-elect numbers fall into the 30s or 20s, it may not matter.

One dollar, one vote. That’s democracy for you.

For me, the best-case scenario is: the Democrats abandon all the hard-core red states and focus all their resources on the states they won last time, plus Ohio. If the Republicans win all their states by 90% margins, and if the Democrats win all of theirs by, say, 537 votes apiece, Li’l George will have to slink back to his ranch, even though he’ll have won 10-15 million more popular votes nationwide.

The Electoral College is our friend!

October 3, 2003 @ 10:14 am | Comment

Vaara, I think you’re a bit too attached to this formula. The Republicans have always had more $$ than the Dems. But that hasn’t guaranteed them victory. Yes, $$ sure as hell matters, in that people tend to vote their pocketbooks. Ergo Clinton’s ingenious 1992 election mantra, “It’s the economy, stupid!”

It sure is. And when you look at the state of the economy today, you have to wonder if there’s any way the Republicans can make that albatross go away, no matter how big their campaign chest is. They couldn’t in 1992.

October 3, 2003 @ 10:47 am | Comment

Good point. But don’t forget that this time, Bush will not be facing a primary opponent (as far as we know), whereas the Democrats will be spending much of their cash choosing a nominee. And don’t underestimate the power of a last-minute TV propaganda blitz. For such an effort to fail, Bush’s poll numbers will have to be very low indeed.

OTOH, the Democratic field is already narrowing — Bob Graham has just dropped out of the race. And the Dean campaign has dramatically demonstrated its ability to raise significant amounts of cash online.

Bottom line: the outcome of this election, like all others, will be turn on four factors. In descending order of significance, they are: money, turnout, personality, and issues.

October 3, 2003 @ 11:11 am | Comment

As a member of the NRRC Leaders of America, I have to add my .02.

The fact is that at some point, there were chemical weapons in Iraq – that is not a debatable point, and we can ask the Kurds that. Ask the ones that Bush the pater left in a lurch and whom then got gassed.

The problem is that the basis of Gulf War II, aka Operation He Tried to Kill My Daddy, were the weapons of mass distraction and then the armed forces couldn’t find any.

I have no doubt that there were weapons that had been developed, and who knows where they are (any guesses that they are either in Saudi Arabia or Syria?)

October 4, 2003 @ 4:51 am | Comment

Jeremy, I don’t think anyone doubts the existence of some weapons, nor do they deny the use of chemical weapons a decade ago. The issue was, Bush said, an imminent threat from awful weapons we were led to believe were aimed and ready to wreak havoc in a matter of minutes. It’s a much better world without Saddam and I am still glad we got him out. It’s the astounding lack of strategy, as well as the greed of Bush cronies, that I find so ugly.

Vaara, yes turnout is way up on the list, and what inspires a big turnout — a traditional Republican nightmare — is being out of work or not being able to make ends meet. So issues and turnout are closely linked, and I’m still skeptical that campaign money can convince people more than their own situation. Were that the case, there wouldn’t be no Democratic Party.

October 4, 2003 @ 5:22 am | Comment

But Richard, in more and more elections recently, bigger turnout has been helping the Republicans. I know that flies in the face of conventional wisdom, but I think it says something. What, I’m not sure.

October 9, 2003 @ 9:47 am | Comment

David, I didn’t know that; traditionall the GOP has feared big voter turnout. I agree about American’s unwillingness to get off their asses and vote. Maybe it should be mandatory. Hey, we have to pay taxes. Why not make it compulsory to go to the polls, as part of our agreeing to be a citizen of the country?

October 9, 2003 @ 10:15 am | Comment

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