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Fresh on the heels of a six-point gain in the latest Time Magazine poll, AP-Ipsos shows George Bush making similar inroads among adults in general. The new polling shows George Bush gaining two-thirds support for his personal attributes, including intelligence:
A majority of Americans say they feel hopeful about President Bush's second term and have a generally positive view of him personally, but they also express continued doubts about Iraq. ...
Ahead of Bush's inauguration on Thursday, six in 10 people said they felt hopeful about his second term and in response to a separate question 47 percent said they were worried. Most said they were neither angry nor excited about his final four years in office.
Considering the partisan atmosphere that has prevailed since the Democrats went crazy in the aftermath of the 2000 election -- and continued after this past election in Ohio -- a 60% "hopeful" rating seems rather significant. It also indicates that the Bush mandate may run deeper than thought; after all, the people who oppose Bush's policies will hardly remain "hopeful" about Bush's ability to implement them with the GOP in charge of both houses of Congress.
Even more interesting is the personal affection that a large majority of the public has for George Bush. Even those who oppose his policies appear to have rejected the personal attacks leveled by the Democrats for the past eighteen months, a result that should cause some recalculations in the DNC and other strategy groups:
Nearly two-thirds of those polled described Bush as likable, strong and intelligent. A majority said he is dependable and honest. Bush is likely to need to draw on those personal strengths as he pursues an aggressive second-term agenda.
Given that the AP doesn't include the actual polling numbers in its report, I suspect that "majority" here doesn't mean 51%, but probably significantly higher -- otherwise, we'd hear qualifiers like "bare", "thin", or even a description of the result as "half". Again, Bush survived the smear campaigns of 2003-4, including the inane singsong "Bush lied, people died" slogan that cheered up the International ANSWER crowd but turned off a significant segment of the center.
What we're seeing reflects history from 20 years ago, when another strong American president did not recoil from using American economic and military power to win a war, one that had dragged on for decades. At the time, the opposition made similar charges towards Ronald Reagan: he lacked intelligence, he was a lightweight on foreign policy, Reagan was the amiable dunce who fronted for the powers behind the throne, and Reagan would cause the world to destroy itself. For those of us who were politically aware at the time, the past four years have provided an eerie sense of deja vu that gives us hope. The same people who got it wrong twenty years ago appear to be getting it wrong now, and once again they find themselves on the fringe of American opinion.
I expect that they will continue to push the same tired themes in the next four years to rally their base through the next two election cycles, mostly because they have demonstrated no ability to learn from their own history. In twenty years, however, they will sing a different tune, just as they did with Ronald Reagan's passing and the overwhelming outburst of love and gratitude that sprang from the American people. And then they will turn around and paint their current GOP president as a clueless dunce who surrounds himself with yes-men while being nothing more than a puppet for evil forces who don't like John Lennon's "Imagine."
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Will Lester reports that most Americans are hopeful about Bush's second term. After winning re-election, Bush is preparing to pursue an ambitious agenda that includes efforts to change Social Security, federal tax laws and medical malpractice awar... [Read More]
Tracked on January 17, 2005 10:52 AM
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