If Dan Froomkin's White House Briefing is correct today, President Bush has had a steeper decline in popularity even among his own prior supporters in the Congress than has previously been widely reported. To the point that speechwriters at the White House have allegedly been reworking the SOTU in order to take out lines that the
rubber stamp Republican Parliament prior Congresses might have applauded as though a large light-up "applause" sign had been lit for the studio audience in prior years. Via Froomkin:
The most vivid symbol of the new order of things will be House Speaker Nancy Pelosi literally looking over his shoulder. With Pelosi's Democrats now in control of both houses of Congress — and some members of the president's own party peeling off as he pushes stubbornly ahead in Iraq — Bush will find his friends far outnumbered by his foes.
Yes, watching the greeting between President Bush and Speaker Pelosi and Vice President Cheney is going to be awfully..interesting, isn't it? Especially given the President's penchant for posturing, the Veep's tendency towards the public sulk, and the Speaker's ability to seem above the fray while putting someone back in their place with a withering glance. Ah, yes, this ought to be fun.
That it has taken this long for the cumulative effect of all of the missteps, overreaches, inadequacies and incompetence to catch up to the reporting on the public opinion and the elected officials' opinion, though, is a substantial lag from what I have been seeing and hearing in real time. (And headline of the day goes to the WaPo online: "Confidence In Bush Leadership Declines." Gee, ya think? Understatement, much?) And I'm curious to see if that has been the same for everyone else as well — not just from folks who have disagreed with the Administration, but folks who have, up until even months ago, supported the Bushies, only to see that creep away from them, bit by bit, from Katrina onward, it seems.
Perhaps it's the result of hearings such as the Judiciary Committee hearing last week (see Digby's take on it, as well as Scarecrow's, Glenn's and mine). Perhaps it is the constant barrage of headlines such as "Twin Bombings Kill Scores In Packed Marketplace in Baghdad," months after we were fed the "last throes" and "Mission Accomplished" and "stay the course" malarky, over and over again.
But the overall reason that President Bush's popularity appears to be in freefall? Yet again it comes to the perception/feelings issue, in the WaPo/ABC News Poll (as reported by the WaPo):
Additional signs of Bush's weakened position come in responses to questions about his personal and leadership attributes. Forty percent describe Bush as honest and trustworthy, equaling the low point of his presidency. Barely a third think he understands the problems of people like themselves.
So much for that "person I'd rather have a beer with" question from the Presidential race holding up, eh? The bottom line: the more the American public sees of President Bush, the more they seem to loathe him. I dunno, sounds a little lonely for whomever is riding goatherd to me…