Wednesday, August 31, 2005

In the Crapper

That would be one way to describe President Bush’s poll numbers.

Rising gas prices and ongoing bloodshed in Iraq continue to take their toll on President Bush, whose standing with the public has sunk to an all-time low, according to the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll.

The survey found Bush’s job approval rating at 45 percent, down seven points since January and the lowest ever recorded for the president in Post-ABC surveys. Fifty-three percent disapproved of the job Bush is doing.


Dissatisfaction is not limited to the president. Fewer than four in 10 Americans — 37 percent — approve of the way the Republican-controlled Congress is doing its job, the lowest rating for lawmakers in nearly eight years.

It also looks like Cindy Sheehan has made a big impression on the country.

The survey also found that Sheehan, who has been protesting the war outside Bush’s ranch near Crawford, Tex., has become the most visible symbol of the antiwar movement. Fully three in four Americans have heard or read about her.

Sheehan met last year with Bush at an event for military families and has been seeking another meeting with him. Slightly more than half of the country — 52 percent — said Bush should meet her again; 46 percent said he should not. Fifty-three percent supported what she is doing and 42 percent opposed.

Lest the Democrats get complacent, though, there’s not good news for them, either:

The survey also provided bad news for Democratic leaders, who are judged as offering Bush only tepid opposition. Slightly more than half of those surveyed expressed dissatisfaction with congressional Democrats for not opposing Bush more aggressively.

Self-identified Democrats were particularly impatient. More than three in four said congressional Democrats have not gone far enough to oppose Bush on Iraq or on administration policies in general.

“Somebody needs to speak up,” said Michelle Burgess, 41, a home health aide in St. Louis. “Enough is enough. I don’t understand why we’re over there in Iraq or what he’s doing on other issues. There are too many lives being lost.”

The message is pretty clear, then: most of the country is dissatisfied with the president and Congress, they think he’s taken the wrong course in Iraq, he’s wrong not to have met with Cindy Sheehan, and there are a whole lot of other issues, like gas prices, health care, and education just to name a few that he’s done nothing about.

Perhaps the Democrats’ plan was to let the Republicans have their way and show the country just how good a thing one-party rule is. The GOP has proven quite handily that they can’t “fix” Social Security, they can’t properly fund even something as critical as Homeland Security, and are completely on the wrong side when it comes to environmental stewardship, stem-cell research, and even something as settled as the teaching of evolution. At the state level, corruption has overtaken three Republican administrations — Connecticut, Ohio, and Kentucky — and the wingnuts are taking over the podium with such spokespeople as James Dobson, Gary Bauer, and Pat Robertson speaking out on such issues as family values and international assassination.

Now would be a good time for Democrats to step up and begin to offer their own version of events. It should be done not in response to what the Bush administration has done — or hasn’t done — but on their own terms. The time has passed for them to sit back and wait, and the electorate is obviously waiting for them to do something…anything. It may be late summer, but now is not the time for the cricket chorus from our side.