Saturday, October 07, 2006

Bush's Approval Rating Is Now 33%, His Lowest Ever

Looks like House Republicans never learned the lesson parents everywhere teach their children: If you do something wrong, it's better to be honest about it, because if you lie and deceive, you'll only make things worse. The GOP is paying a steep price for ignoring that truth, as the latest Newsweek poll shows:

Come hell or high water -- ran the conventional wisdom -- Republicans could rely on two issues to win elections: the war on terror and values. Then came Mark Foley. The drip-drip-drip of scandal surrounding the former Congressman from Florida, which became a deluge this week, now threatens to sink Republican hopes of keeping control of Congress. ...

And that was the good news for the GOP. More worrisome still, the Foley fiasco is jeopardizing the party's monopoly on faith and power. For the first time since 2001, the NEWSWEEK poll shows that more Americans trust the Democrats than the GOP on moral values and the war on terror. Fully 53 percent of Americans want the Democrats to win control of Congress next month, including 10 percent of Republicans, compared to just 35 percent who want the GOP to retain power. If the election were held today, 51 percent of likely voters would vote for the Democrat in their district versus 39 percent who would vote for the Republican. And while the race is closer among male voters (46 percent for the Democrats vs. 42 percent for the Republicans), the Democrats lead among women voters 56 to 34 percent.

Here's what I find the most significant part of these figures:

The scandal's more significant impact seems to be a widening of the yawning credibility gap developing between the President, his party and the nation. While 52 percent of Americans believe Hastert was aware of Foley's actions and tried to cover them up, it's part of a larger loss of faith in Republican leadership, thanks mostly to the war in Iraq. For instance, for the first time in the NEWSWEEK poll, a majority of Americans now believe the Bush administration knowingly misled the American people in building its case for war against Saddam Hussein: 58 percent vs. 36 percent who believe it didn't. And pessimism over Iraq is at record highs on every score: nearly two in three Americans, 64 percent, believe the United States is losing ground there; 66 percent say the war has not made America safer from terrorism (just 29 percent believe it has); and 53 percent believe it was a mistake to go to war at all, again the first time the NEWSWEEK poll has registered a majority in that camp.

If Americans had not already been deceived, misinformed, misled, manipulated, and lied to about the supposed reasons for the Iraq war, the impact of the Foley scandal might have been less serious.

Bush's core base -- the people who embraced the "war on terror" enthusiastically from the start, and who continued to give Bush the benefit of the doubt even after it became clear that none of his justifications for war were valid -- are now running in the opposite direction as it becomes more and more clear that he, and the Republican leadership, are serial liars.

Looks like the Bush administration has squandered and betrayed the support of its own most loyal supporters, just as it did before with the rest of the world after 9/11.

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