July 26, 2007
Drowning (Bob Franken)
@ 10:13 am
So how does a president fall so low in the public esteem?
Obviously, the Iraq war is the anvil that drags the Bush administration into the poll pits, and the United States into a deadly morass from which there might be no honorable escape, but that’s not all there is.
This White House, with all its self-proclaimed communications and political skill, has allowed a PR disaster to develop across the board.
Even its strongest card, the war against terrorism, is being trumped by the critics who say it is being waged by incompetents who fall back on torture and dubious surveillance of Americans as a substitute for the diffult job of protecting this nation without sacrificing its precious freedoms.
Not only that, but there is a daily drumbeat of stories that seem to catch our leaders in one falsehood after another. The common reponse is that the threat to the country requires stern action. Furthermore, rigid secrecy is imperative, which means that while these tactics are vital to prevent new attacks, they simply cannot be thoroughly explained to the public. That qualifies as a dilemma.
There’s also the domestic “message” mess, that this presidency is reliably for the rich guy and against everyone else, whether it involves corporate policy, taxes, finances, healthcare, energy and all the other environmental matters, you name it.
Democrats have been having an easy time deflecting Republican contentions that their policies encourage not just wealth, but shared wealth.
Moving right along to the social agenda and the belief that it panders to an ultra-conservative base where religious fervor becomes a substitute for science, an impediment to progress — stem cell research being a prime example, abstinence programs another. Arguments that values must be maintained often fall on deaf ears or are met with the question “WHOSE values?”
It may well be that these impressions are distortions, exaggerations, caricatures painted by the adversaries of George W. Bush. Some of them, or most, depending on your point of view, very well may be.
But the polls suggest that, accurate or not, fair or not, the administration could be sinking, dragged down by perceptions that, as we all know, in politics, ARE reality.