Sunday, September 24, 2006

Bush goes public, gains in opinion polls

Now that President Bush is appearing in public and arguing his case for the war in Iraq, his ratings are gradually rising.

His recent relentless focus on anti-terrorist policies, coupled with a sharp decline in the price of petrol, appear to have ended the slump that began after Hurricane Katrina last year.

His personal approval rating rose to 45 per cent in a Bloomberg/Los Angeles Times poll, up five points from July. A Gallup poll gave him a 44 per cent rating, his highest in that poll in a year. His ratings had dropped to the low 30s.

The change in mood follows high-profile speeches on terrorism by Mr Bush as he pursues a political strategy that served well in the 2002 mid-terms.

Did everyone see Chris Wallace's interview with Clinton? He seems to think that the Democrats will win the mid-term elections, as long as the big bad Republicans don't persuade them they have something to fear.

But we do have something to fear. I am reminded of a quote, I think from James Thurber: "It's hard for children to realize that Santa is not real, even though we can see him, and the wolf at the door is real, even though we can't see him." We have a wolf at the door. The threat is real. The big bad RoPs are out to get us.

I think these disastrous dips in poll numbers, not just for Bush but for the Iraq war, would not have occurred if Bush had publicly made his case, over and over, as he is doing. But Bush has preferred to behave like the groundhog, sticking his head out once a year. It won't do.

That's a leader's job! If he is honest about the war and our objectives, the people will believe you and follow you. The stakes are really high.

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