Will It Get Worse for Bush?

Adam Shpeen at the Agenda Gap predicts that "things will get worse before they improve." He anticipates the Republicans will "take some major hits" next week in the Virginia and New Jersey gubernatorial elections. Knowing how off the mark some pre-election polls have been in Virginia in the past, I'm not so sure.

Eric A. Hopp writes in his "Oh Well" blog that the poll numbers "are schitzoid. So 2/3rds of the public disapprove of the way Bush is handling Iraq, with almost 60% saying the U.S. should have never invaded Iraq in the first place.... If this war continues on over time with no resolution, that 18% of the public, who wants to withdrawal U.S. forces immediately, is going to start increasing. And the congressional midterm elections start next year." (Should Bush dip into his Strategic Approval Reserves?)

The Ambivablog says: "I almost feel sorry for Bush now that all but his hardest-core supporters -- the base of the base -- have lost their rose-colored glasses. (20 percent still "strongly approve.") No one looks good through a jaundiced eye (remember Bubba, caught with his hand in the panty jar? Suddenly his fans saw him as his haters always had -- doughy, glib and narcissistic)..."

But is it Bush's "hardest-core supporters" that are deserting him? More likely it's the moderates who had given Bush the benefit of the doubt. Was the Libby indictment the straw that broke the camel's back? Or was it the 2,000th American death in Iraq? Something else entirely?

Many of the Debaters who are angry with Bush seemed most upset about the Iraq war in general. They feel that they were lied to about the necessity of the war, and since most (but not all) of the pro-war rhetoric that has since been deemed misleading was coming from the administration, the anger is understandable.

But, Jim P. asks, "is it possible that the outing [of Valerie Plame's identity] ultimately owed not to payback but stunning incompetence?" Sure, it's possible. And if the trial of Scooter Libby (and anyone else indicted in relation to the leak) leads us to that conclusion, could it be just as damaging to the administration as a finding that Plame's name was leaked out of retribution?

If it was done out of retribution but the leak was not a crime (and it appears that, indeed, the leak itself was not a crime), then that's just politics as usual. Leading the country to war based on faulty intelligence is one thing -- as many Debaters rightly pointed out, it wasn't just the Bush administration that believed the reports about Saddam's activities. But leading the country to war out of incompetence? That could become a big deal, and it would open up the question: What other problems might that incompetence have caused? (The ginormous deficit would probably be the first thing to be scrutinized if such a question were asked.)

Mike Magner, arguing emphatically in support of Bush and the war, makes a good point: "it has been a long established principle in our society that the Government should not be able to hide incompetence behind classified documents and other forms of secrecy." He says it was incompetence that Wilson's wife sent him on the Niger trip (Debater Jim notes: "Ms. Plame didn't have authority to send her husband, only to recommend it to higher-ups.") and therefore, it was important to reveal her identity. Of course, if incompetence is shown to be the central problem in this administration -- and I honestly don't think it will be -- Mike shouldn't be bothered if that long-established principle is one day applied to classified information that embarrasses the administration instead of one of its critics.

Debater Matt says what's really making things worse for Bush is the state of the nation in general, though he admits that the DeLay scandal and questions about Frist's stock sale aren't helping. Matt writes:

If people's pockets were lined better, they would be more forgiving towards the Bush missteps. But they're not in a very pliable mood right now. So they're receptive to bad news for Bush. And starting to wonder when the promised land that keeps talking about will come. When will we get out of Iraq? When will I start feeling better about my country? When will I know there's an ethical government running the show? When will things get better?
The news for Bush recently has been bad, but not catastrophic. Until the country rights itself, however, it won't matter a whit as people will continue to impugn Bush with their dissatisfaction in general.

One last observation: The idea that "the buck stops" at the president came up in the comments more than once. Under that logic, the president should be held accountable for any administration misconduct. Is this becoming a more prevalent attitude? If so, Bush could be in for a rough ride.

By Emily Messner |  November 4, 2005; 6:51 PM ET  | Category:  Beltway Perspectives
Previous: Low in the Polls: Are the Ethics Scandals to Blame? | Next: Ode to Civilized Debate


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Bush is toast, burned toast. So is Cheney.

The only decision the Republcans have to make is whether to impeach Bush and Cheney before the 2006 elections or wait until 2007.

If they impeach Bush and Cheney early in 2006, Denny Hastert becomes President.

If they wait until 2007, the Dems might win the House of Representatives in the 2006 election, and with Nancy Pelosi as Speaker, removal of Bush and Cheney would promote Nancy Pelosi to the Presidency.

That is the decision facing the Republicans in Congress. Impeach soon and promote Hastert or take a chance and and maybe get Pelosi as President. Keeping Bush and Cheney is not an option.

Posted by: amadeus | November 5, 2005 04:40 AM

It's not rational to assume that the Republicans will do anything so drastic as to impeach one of their own kind, no matter how fumbling he now is or how corrupt his White House tenure turns out to be. It won't happen.

If the Dems win back the House or the Senate next year, the impeachment movement will have wings.

More worrisome for the country than whether or not Bush or Cheney will be impeached is whether Bush can hold himself together mentally. Personally, I think the man is a little unhinged. Nobody could be this daft, could they? Maureen Dowd recently said: "W. is so insulated and infantilized by having sycophants around him that he's become completely blind and deaf to the fact that someone who sucks up to him is not necessarily qualified for the Supreme Court."

When you step back, listen or read Bush's speeches and take a long view his actions, you wonder where the guy thinks he's taking us and what condition we'll be in when we get there?

I view Bush's plunging popularity as the nation's emergence from a long anxiety-filled slumber, brought on in part by the Bush Administration clever use of terrorisim as a narcotic. The Iraq War funerals have unveiled Bush for what he essentially is: a weak man who needed a war to make himself feel strong.

If Bush is skidding down the basement stairs in the opinion polls, he should no longer expect terrorism to boost him back up. The American people are finally awake.

Posted by: Roger Dier | November 5, 2005 07:23 AM

Emily, Bush's unpopularity goes way beyond the Iraq war blunders. There is an element of the same sort of "malaise" in American society today that brought Jimmy Carter low and allowed Ronald Reagan to usher in this era of conservatism that has pretty much dominated our politics since his election in 1980.

I believe what we are seeing is not only the decline in fortune for a President but also for a movement. The conservatives came to power on all sorts of promises to make government more efficient, lean and responsive. In practice, they have governed in an even more incompetent manner than did the liberals. They have institutionalized even deeper a culture of corruption and incompetence that far surpasses anything that previous liberal governments have brought upon us.

It is notable that--as you point out in your post--most of Bush's decline in the polls has come not from his hardcore conservative base on the right but from the center. I believe that what we are seeing here is a message from that center that they are fed up with America's fringes. When you see those polls indicating their lack of respect for the media, it isn't because they think the media is too liberal. It is because they think the media dwells obsessively on the culture war feuds that the fringes engage in while ignoring them and the real political and economic issues they care about.

There is a message for democrats as well. You had better divest yourselves of all of these finge issues and the special interests that pursue them and concentrate more on the central economic and security issues that concern that 44% of us out here in the mainstream who intensely dislike what Bush and the conservative right has done to us, but do not want to go back to the days of simply throwing vast wads of tax money at problems that never seem to go away.

Posted by: Jaxas | November 5, 2005 10:49 AM

When Laura Bush said in a television interview that the opposition to Harriet Miers was sexist,she knew that was not true. She only said it because she has become just as jaded as Mr. Bush.The opposition would have been just as strong if it had been a man with the same flimsy credentials. Shame on her and shame on Mr. Bush for allowing her to make a fool of herself on national television. She no longer has my respect.

Posted by: Dottie | November 5, 2005 01:17 PM

I want to see Roe v Wade overturned. The Republicans have used it successfully for 30 years. I want to see many, many unwanted babies, babies in dumpsters, orphanages, women dead from blood poisoning, more welfare, more crime, and finally give the rightwing what they want.Good luck, Repubs.

Posted by: DOTTIE | November 5, 2005 03:21 PM


You said: "I want to see Roe v Wade overturned. The Republicans have used it successfully for 30 years. I want to see many, many unwanted babies, babies in dumpsters, orphanages, women dead from blood poisoning, more welfare, more crime, and finally give the rightwing what they want."

Let me just say that you are hurting America by focussing on just one or two issues. Let me guess you are a religous person?

Please ask yourself the following questions:

Is it not moral to take care of the poor and the middle class?
Is it not moral to provide affordable health care to all individuals?
Is it not moral to focus on better education for America when we are falling behind the rest of the world?

Was it moral to invade Iraq when most of the World was not behind us? Before you start listening to more Republican BS on this topic, please read this article: http://www.jhsph.edu/publichealthnews/press_releases/PR_2004/Burnham_Iraq.html
Wasn't Jesus the prince of peace, not the prince of war?

Is it moral to keep feeding the special interests of big business and granting huge tax breaks to the already wealthy, while the poor just get poorer? Health care and education costs are through the roof. What does this mean? The poor can't afford health care or education, hence the gap between the rich and poor keeps getting wider. Is this moral?

Was it moral for Bush and his Repbulican controlled congress to take the largest surplus in history and turn it into the largest deficit in history? Our kids will be paying for this you know...

Was it moral to take all the money for social security that was paid in and spend it on something else that it wasn't supposed to be for, especially when there is a looming crisis ahead with all the baby boomers coming to retirement age? (Remember, Clinton wanted to invest the surplus in low-risk bonds and Al Gore wanted that money in an iron clad lock box. This was actually the moral and intelligent thing to do.)

Republicans don't have morals or values where it actually can make a difference. Roe v. Wade is already on the books, it is not likely to be overturned easily...it is the law. If Gay marriage is banned, it won't stop gays and lesbians from the acts that religious folks dispise.

Didn't Jesus teach compassion too? If so, you are voting in the wrong direction to make America a better place to live and raise children.

Religious fanatics, please educate yourselves (with something other than the Bible once in awhile) and start thinking about the bigger picture. Please start worrying and voting for the things you can actually make a real difference with.


Bush's chance has come and gone. He failed. He has run up a huge deficit and has made government larger, so he has falied to acheive what his conversative base wants in general. He hasn't given the religious right anything they voted for (whay can he really do anyhow?). He has also torn apart the Republican constituents...it all just seems now like it was a ploy to gain votes for a neocon agenda. Finally, he has handed us the mess in Iraq and a World that doesn't respect America. Stick a fork in him, he is done.

Posted by: Independent Viewpoint | November 6, 2005 09:15 AM

"Bush is toast, burned toast."

That's exactly what the leftists thought on November 2nd, 2004.

See you in the midterms!

Posted by: Jeff | November 6, 2005 01:02 PM



Remember the "G" in your given name is for George not God!

Posted by: Concerned American Ken | November 6, 2005 02:43 PM

20 Amazing Facts About
Voting in the USA
by Angry Girl


Did you know....
1. 80% of all votes in America are counted by only two companies: Diebold and ES&S.



2. There is no federal agency with regulatory authority or oversight of the U.S. voting machine industry.



3. The vice-president of Diebold and the president of ES&S are brothers.



4. The chairman and CEO of Diebold is a major Bush campaign organizer and donor who wrote in 2003 that he was "committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year."



5. Republican Senator Chuck Hagel used to be chairman of ES&S. He became Senator based on votes counted by ES&S machines.



6. Republican Senator Chuck Hagel, long-connected with the Bush family, was recently caught lying about his ownership of ES&S by the Senate Ethics Committee.




7. Senator Chuck Hagel was on a short list of George W. Bush's vice-presidential candidates.



8. ES&S is the largest voting machine manufacturer in the U.S. and counts almost 60% of all U.S. votes.



9. Diebold's new touch screen voting machines have no paper trail of any votes. In other words, there is no way to verify that the data coming out of the machine is the same as what was legitimately put in by voters.



10. Diebold also makes ATMs, checkout scanners, and ticket machines, all of which log each transaction and can generate a paper trail.



11. Diebold is based in Ohio.


12. Diebold employed 5 convicted felons as consultants and developers to help write the central compiler computer code that counted 50% of the votes in 30 states.



13. Jeff Dean was Senior Vice-President of Global Election Systems when it was bought by Diebold. Even though he had been convicted of 23 counts of felony theft in the first degree, Jeff Dean was retained as a consultant by Diebold and was largely responsible for programming the optical scanning software now used in most of the United States.



14. Diebold consultant Jeff Dean was convicted of planting back doors in his software and using a "high degree of sophistication" to evade detection over a period of 2 years.



15. None of the international election observers were allowed in the polls in Ohio.



16. California banned the use of Diebold machines because the security was so bad. Despite Diebold's claims that the audit logs could not be hacked, a chimpanzee was able to do it! (See the movie here: http://blackboxvoting.org/baxter/baxterVPR.mov.)



17. 30% of all U.S. votes are carried out on unverifiable touch screen voting machines with no paper trail.


18. All -- not some -- but all the voting machine errors detected and reported in Florida went in favor of Bush or Republican candidates.






19. The governor of the state of Florida, Jeb Bush, is the President's brother.



20. Serious voting anomalies in Florida -- again always favoring Bush -- have been mathematically demonstrated and experts are recommending further investigation.







Posted by: Che | November 6, 2005 04:32 PM

The Guardian (UK) reports that President Bush has ordered that top White House staff must take a refresher course in ethics.

I wonder if this includes egregious violators of commonsense ethical code - those who advocate torture (Cheney, Rumsfeld, Gonsalez), those who put national security in jeopardy by revealing undercover CIA agents (Rove), those who hold prisoners without bringing charges against them or allowing them to defend themselves (the entire administration).

Finally, how about the CEO himself?

Posted by: Jack K. | November 6, 2005 08:26 PM


Dude, if you are just now figuring out whose side Queensryche is on, you'd better start re-evaluating some of the other things you think you know about!

Let me ask you, why are you a Republican supporter?

Posted by: Independent Viewpoint | November 6, 2005 10:30 PM

I believe that competence is the issue and that the Bush administration has revealed itself to be massively incompetent. They care more for ideology than facts. Look at issues like global warning, stem cell research, teaching evolution, for a starter and they are more interested in appeasing the base than dealing with science. The obsession with ideological purity and personal loyalty to the president produced a governement riddled with cronies who were not capable of executing their responsibilities. FEMA is the most glaring example, but not the only one. Mindless insistence on tax cuts, tax cuts and more tax cuts in the face of runaway government spending is staggering imcompetence. I have to make payroll every two weeks and my ability to borrow is constrained by my ability to repay the loans. Our government is wallowing in red ink and our grandchildren will pay the price. I applaud Bush for facing the impending implosion of Social Security. I believe that an investment account system similar to a 401(k) is a great idea. However, how do we get there from here? Bush's plan diverts some Social Security taxes to retirement accounts. The problem is that current workers have been paying the taxes that support current retirees. The impending retirement of the 'baby boom generation' will drastically alter the ratio of workers to Social Security annuitants. Either more revenue or lower benefits are needed to resolve this issue. Bush's response is to rule out increased revenue (higher taxes) and to divert some of the revenue coming in to retirement accounts. Exactly how will this solve the problem? Medicare is in even worse shape and the new prescription drug benefit just adds to the red ink. The ultimate fiasco is the Iraq war - the Army Chief of Staff (General Eric Shineski) warned that we would need over 200,000 troops to secure Iraq after an invasion. This did not fit the administration's vision of cheerful Iraqis strewing flowers in front of our troops. General Shineski was nudged into early retirement. The 'planning' for the war was confined to a small clique of neo-cons in the Pentagon. Other agencies with expertise in the kinds of problems we would face in post war Iraq were not allowed a place at the table. Consider how differently things might have gone if we had sufficient troop strength to establish order in Baghdad and other cities, to restore vital infrastructure in a timely manner and to establish effective border control.

Posted by: Florida Small Businessman | November 7, 2005 08:00 AM

I am so fed up with the "Everyone thought Saddam had WMDs" dodge. It may be true that a lot of people and senators, a majority even, thought so, but how many of them were privy to all the CIA reports about how shaky the WMD intel was? How many saw the reports casting doubt (to put it politely) on sources like Chalabi, "Curveball", and al-Libi?

Yes, "everyone" thought Saddam had WMDs because the people who knew he didn't lied to them.

Posted by: Eli | November 7, 2005 12:26 PM

Bush is a phamtom menace to the United Sates and the whole world. He is an intellectual midget and a patsy for a cabal in Washington lead by VP Dick Cheney. He is incapable of understanding the magnitude of the destructive policies he has unleashed on the world and us. All the blathering going on here assumes that President Bush knows anything about anything; and, that he has a clue about what Presidents do. VP Cheney has usurped the Constitution of the USA and is the de facto President of the USA. We learned last week that he has been trying to convince the Senate to help him make torture the law of the USA. I am confident that by the time the anesthetized American public wakes up to the damage done to the country, it will take generations to fix the mess. Dick Cheney and his cabal committed treason and led the world into a war in Iraq that is bleeding the American treasury at an alarming rate. I did not vote for Bush because those of us who knew better, and never drank the VP's brand of Kool Aid, knew that the outcome would be exactly what you have all witnessed. America and the world got exactly what they voted for. The damage is already done. What the Right, the Center and us Liberals think at this point is irrelevant. The voting machines are still rigged. The country has lost its lead in science and math. All we are good at anymore is killing people and destroying other countries in pursuit of an energy policy that just makes us fatter and lazier. Come on woman. How much lower would you like the standing of the USA to go before you stop apologizing for the most incompetent and destructive administration in American history?

Posted by: Julio | November 7, 2005 12:56 PM

Well said "Florida Small Businessman". I agree on all counts.

I don't think Republican supporters understand that they are being baited and switched by this administration and the small circle of necons that are pulling the strings. They pulled the constituent votes together masterfully and now they are doing basically what they want...and it isn't working. It's hard to believe that it has taken this long for some of the Republican congressmen (and women) to start voicing opposition to many of their shannanigans.

Posted by: Independent Viewpoint | November 7, 2005 01:27 PM

Well said "Florida Small Businessman". I agree on all counts.

I don't think Republican supporters understand that they are being baited and switched by this administration and the small circle of necons that are pulling the strings. They pulled the constituent votes together masterfully and now they are doing basically what they want...and it isn't working. It's hard to believe that it has taken this long for some of the Republican congressmen (and women) to start voicing opposition to many of their shannanigans.

Posted by: Independent Viewpoint | November 7, 2005 01:28 PM

In the next few months, we are going to see most Republicans running to put some distance between themselves and the president. He is not likely to get any more popular anytime before midterm elections, and politicians are going to scramble to save their skins.

Tomorrow's goober-natorial election in NJ is illustrative. Corzine is showing pictures of Forrester with the Prez in an effort to taint him with Bush's freshly-minted anti-halo. Imagine if this election was in November 2002. Forrester would have used the same picture in his own ads, and played up any real or perceived connection with Bush.

It reminds me of the national elections in 2000, when pols fled from the shadow of Clinton.

That gets me thinking - how can a Republican win in 2008? I think only the democrats can beat the democrats in 2008, but we'll see soon enough.

Posted by: Zsogar the Volcano God | November 7, 2005 02:05 PM

Oh my, I hardly know where to start with all this.

I'm mad as hell and I don't know who to focus my anger on.

I am angry with the ignorance of the public. EVERYTHING that has finally come into public light in the past year was known about before the last election. Torture, stovepiping intelligence, destruction of enemies taking precedence over national security, rampant cronyism and corruption, the mounting debt loaded on to the backs of the middle and lower classes, the unpromising course of poorly prosecuted wars in Iraq AND Afghanistan, utter failure to secure our ports and borders, the creation of a terrorist spawning machine of epic proportions in Iraq and worsening of our terrorism problem, the hijacking of Social Security reform in a way that would benefit cronies but not actually improve the debt of the program, the utter failure to address the crisis in Medicare, I could go on and on, it was all out there a year ago for anyone who cared to look. Bush's tanking poll numbers imply that people are now only learning of these issues, but really how could any human being with a brain and a sixth grade diploma not have seen what this administration was, or be so naive as to be bamboozled into thinking the most important crises in our country were gay marriage and evolution? We apparently got the goverment we deserve.

But perhaps it is not the fault of the people, who are simply struggling to survive, working two and three jobs and taking care of their kids and desperately wanting to believe in a government that pretends to be moral. So then it must be the fault of the media for failing to educate them. The Post editorial page is still in bed with the administration, and the Times mea culpas now sound hollow with the lack of follow up. How is it that most people at least glance at the front page of a daily newspaper (above the fold) and hear at least a few minutes of news on the radio or TV, yet only a tiny fraction know that the House passed 3 court stripping bills? If the schools failed to teach the people how to recognize fascism, the media ought to.

But the media cannot be blamed entirely. My angry letter to the ombusdman received in reply a listing of dozens of articles in the Post warning about problems with intelligence, administrative untruths, and similar issues (although nearly all were inside page small column items that only dedicated readers would find). Maybe it really is simply incompetence. Maybe after all the jokes about W's dulled intellect its true after all, he's just not smart enough to run the country. Can you get mad at someone for incompetence? On the other hand, maybe its a cunning ruse to dodge accountability by playing dumb.

Or maybe I should be mad at the cabal that is actually running the government. A long article in today's Post details Cheney's opposition to the torture regulations, but mentions Bush only in passing. If Wilkerson is right and the cabal is in charge, wasting energy being angry at W isn't worth the effort.

I'm mad as hell and I don't even know who I'm maddest at. But if the schools haven't taught our citizens how to think and the media won't help, I'm going to stand on every streetcorner I can and slap people awake.

Posted by: patriot1957 | November 7, 2005 02:30 PM

How can a Republican win in 2008?

Same as they've always done: smear attacks, hot-button issues (Terrorism! Immigrants! Gay Marriage!), and vote-suppression if not outright tampering (which the Democrats don't seem especially eager to reform away), all aided and abetted by corporate-owned media and a right-wing noise machine.

They will, however, have to distance themselves from, if not outright repudiate, Bush, unless he manages a huge turnaround over the next 3 years.

Unfortunately for him, his advisors aren't going to tell him to clean house and pout themselves out of a job.

Posted by: Eli | November 7, 2005 02:35 PM

Er, "put" themselves out of a job. Bit of a Freudian slip there...

Posted by: Eli | November 7, 2005 02:42 PM

Yea "pout" is funny. Anyway, back to spoof posts on Free Republic for me. THis serious stuff is not as much fun.

Posted by: Zsogar the Volcano God | November 7, 2005 02:49 PM

The Peter Principle prevails - GWB reached his level of incompetence a long time ago . However, there is no hope that he will ever realise this. This affliction leaves him unconsciously incompetent - therefore it might be pointless in thinking that he will come around to doing something sensible.

Posted by: Richard | November 7, 2005 05:39 PM

Well said fellow American's Julio and
Richard, I believe G.W.B. does comprehend,
but very little!

Posted by: Concerned American | November 7, 2005 07:09 PM

The surprise here is not that Bush's poll figures are so low but that there is anyone vacant enough to support him at all. My God, what else does a president have to do before even his staunchest supporters see the light - another war, torture broadcast live on national television, a 20 trillion dollar debt?

Posted by: Mark Esposito | November 8, 2005 03:48 PM

Emily: First, thank you for linking my blog "Oh Well" to "The Debate." I will say that I'm pleasantly surprised that my site is generating some buzz among the professional mainstream journalists.

When I looked at the poll numbers and saw the American public's schitzoid response, I realize that this country has not had a serious debate as to why we're in Iraq, and what are the clearly defined goals for success in Iraq. Oh, we've heard plenty of spin from the Bush White House--Iraq has WMDs, Saddam's a bad guy, we'll stay the course until we finish the job, either you're with us--or you're with the terrorists. But the longer we stay in Iraq, the more we get bogged down in this low-intensity conflict that's starting to look like Vietnam. And not only does the American public have no clue as to how to resolve this issue, but this same befuddlement can be seen through the conflicting viewpoints starting to emerge in Congress.

The 2006 midterm elections could be the spark for bringing out this debate, and for providing solutions to Iraq. There will certainly be a lot of fuel to add to this combustable mix--Scooter Libby's trial will start, Bush's low poll numbers and Republican fears of a Democratic Party's takeover of Congress, continued fighting and increasing American casualties in Iraq--are just a few of the issues to spur this debate. I don't know where such a debate could lead us to, but I'll certainly be watching it closely.

Posted by: Eric A Hopp | November 11, 2005 02:23 PM

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