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Bush Meltdown

Via Chris Bowers, I'm happy to report that the latest Gallup Poll shows George W. Bush reaching new lows in popularity, registering a 34/63 approval/disapproval rating, getting him seriously into the bad company of presidents in trouble, from (second-term) Harry Truman, to Richard Nixon, to Jimmy Carter and to his own old man. I'm not so old that I can remember Truman, though I am aware that his deep unpopularity after his upset 1948 election win fed a Republican congressional landslide in 1950, and then the Eisenhower landslide of 1952. But I do remember Nixon's fall from grace very graphically (feeding the 1974 Democratic landslide and then the election of Jimmy Carter in 1976), and of course the free-fall Bush I went into thanks to his overt confusion and indifference over every aspect of domestic policy. Most of all I remember my fellow Georgian Carter (I was actually a Carter volunteer the first time he ran for governor, in 1966), whose well-earned post-presidential rehabilitation has obscured his own W.-like reputation in the late 1970s for total fecklessness. I will certainly never forget the day after the revelation of the Desert One disaster--the Iranian hostage effort that expired when U.S. helicopters collided en route to an aborted rescue. As it happens, I spoke that morning to my political mentor, a man who had worked for Carter in Atlanta, and who observed: "Well, Jimmy's just established himself as the first president to screw up a one-car funeral." George W. Bush has established an equal reputation for incompetence, and unlike Carter, has also richly earned a reputation for lying to the American people on a vast number of issues. He seems to be on a trajectory to combine the worst perceptions of Carter and Nixon: a president over his head, who can't tell the truth to save his own political life.