Bush Goes Into State Of The Union Speech With America's Confidence In His Ability To Lead The Nation At Home And At War At An All-Time Low
None of the press cons or addresses to the nations or supremely high-energy spin machinry of the White House in the past few months have managed to change the minds of Americans.
For the first time in his presidency, major speeches and addresses have failed to see a boost in his favourability or confidence ratings. The numbers continue to drop.
He is rating almost as badly as Nixon (only a few percentage points away) during the heights of the Watergate scandal, and the extended, and still bloody, pullout from Vietnam.
It is an utterly remarkable time for Bush, comparable to any history changing crisis to have faced any president since Washington.
The images pouring from the television screens on Iraq, and the corpses flowing back home, just blot out anything Bush has to say to his people. He cannot compete with the reality of the war he wanted, and got.
They think their president is a loser, and that he is losing the War On iraq.
With two years still to go before he empties the drawers of the desk built from the timbers of the Resolute, it appears there is nothing, not even a withdrawal from Iraq, that will now change their minds about their president.
And unlike 9/11, a major terrorist attack will likely make Americans trust him less, not more.
Two years to go, with some of the worst numbers in presidential history.
65% of Americans are now totally opposed to his key plan in 'winning' the War On Iraq : sending in more troops.
A mere 21% of Americans think Bush is leading the country down the right track.
71% think Bush is leading them all down the wrong track : towards greater danger, death and destruction.
For the first time, more than half of all Americans, 52%, want Bush to withdraw the troops instead of taking more casualties and staying until civil order is restored to Iraq.
From the Washington Post :
President Bush will deliver his State of the Union address on Tuesday at the weakest point of his presidency, facing deep public dissatisfaction over his Iraq war policies and eroding confidence in his leadership, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.
With a major confrontation between Congress and the president brewing over Iraq, Americans overwhelmingly oppose Bush's plan to send an additional 21,500 troops to the conflict. By wide margins, they prefer that congressional Democrats, who now hold majorities in both chambers, rather than the president, take the lead in setting the direction for the country.
Iraq dominates the national agenda, with 48 percent of Americans calling the war the single most important issue they want Bush and the Congress to deal with this year.
No other issue rises out of single digits. The poll also found that the public trusts congressional Democrats over Bush to deal with the conflict by a margin of 60 percent to 33 percent.
The Post-ABC poll shows that 65 percent of Americans oppose sending more troops to Iraq; it was 61 percent immediately after the president unveiled the plan on Jan. 10 in a nationally televised address.
More broadly, Bush will be speaking on Tuesday night to a nation that is deeply pessimistic, with just 26 percent of Americans saying the country is heading in the right direction and 71 percent saying the country is seriously off track. That is the worst these ratings have been in more than a decade.
Bush's overall approval rating in the new poll is 33 percent, matching the lowest it has been in Post-ABC polls since he took office in 2001. Sixty-five percent say they disapprove. Equally telling is the finding that 51 percent of Americans now strongly disapprove of his performance in office, the worst rating of his presidency. Just 17 percent strongly approve of the way he is handling his job.
Only two presidents have had lower approval ratings on the eve of a State of the Union speech. Richard Nixon was at 26 percent in 1974, seven months before he resigned in disgrace because of the Watergate scandal. Harry S. Truman was at 23 percent in January 1952, driven down by public disapproval of the Korean conflict and his firing of Gen. Douglas MacArthur.
Just 29 percent approve of Bush's handling of the Iraq war, which is only one percentage point off his career low recorded a month ago, and 70 percent disapprove. Similarly, Bush's approval rating on handling terrorism is at a near-low, with just 46 percent giving him positive marks and 52 percent negative.
Just 42 percent say he can be trusted in a crisis, with 56 percent saying he cannot -- the first time a majority has given him a negative rating on a crucial element of presidential leadership. Only 45 percent call him a strong leader, which is also the lowest mark of his presidency. His previous low, 47 percent, came two months after Katrina ravaged New Orleans and the Gulf Coast.
But the negative assessments of the president continue to stem overwhelmingly from public attitudes about Iraq. Nearly two-thirds of Americans say it was a mistake to go to war there, the highest negative response since the war began. And 55 percent of Americans now say the president has not made the country safer, the first time a majority of the country has reached that conclusion.
Another first-time majority, 52 percent, would prefer to see U.S. forces withdrawn from Iraq to avoid further casualties rather than leaving them until civil order is restored. The poll did not ask about a timetable for such a withdrawal.
Many Americans see Bush falling short of many of the goals he has outlined for his Iraq policy. Just 28 percent say it has contributed to long-term peace and stability in the region, and only 36 percent think it has encouraged the spread of democracy to other Arab countries. At this point, the public is evenly divided on the question of whether the war has made the lives of Iraqi citizens better.