Notes: URAP Project 1: Fall 2005: Noise Traders

George W. Bush Is an Unpopular President

Could it be because he's incompetent?

Daniel Froomkin writes:

The Increasingly Unpopular President: "the just-out Associated Press/Ipsos poll, Bush's job approval ratings and the public's confidence in the direction he's taking the nation are both at their lowest levels ever. A whopping 55 percent of those polled actually disapprove of the job he's doing, compared to 43 percent who approve.... This week's Washington Post/ABC News poll finds that 51 percent of respondents said they had an unfavorable impression of the president.... And the more you dig into the results, the worse it gets. Will Lester writes for the Associated Press: 'While Bush has gotten generally low scores for his handling of domestic issues for many months, most Americans have been supportive of his foreign policy. Not any more. 'In fact, as with The Post's poll, the AP poll shows there is no longer a single area in which the public approves of the job Bush is doing. On the economy, the approve/disapprove split in the AP poll is 43/54; on health care, education and the environment, 40/57; on foreign policy issues and the war on terrorism, 45/52; on the situation in Iraq, 41/56; and on Social Security, 37/59.

When is it time to start referring to Bush as an unpopular president? When his approval ratings are solidly below 50 percent for at least three months? Check. When his approval ratings on his signature issues are in the red? Check. When a clear majority of Americans say he is ignoring the public's concerns and instead has become distracted by issues that most people say they care little about? Check.

And a Reality CheckHere's how Bush described his plan for Iraq, at his joint press availability with Prime Minister Tony Blair on Tuesday: 'We'll support Iraqis as they take the lead in providing their own security. Our strategy is clear: We're training Iraqi forces so they can take the fight to the enemy, so they can defend their country. And then our troops will come home with the honor they have earned.' Anthony Shadid and Steve Fainaru write from Baiji, in northern Iraq, with a chilling and gripping tale about the U.S. military's attempt to train the Iraqi army's Charlie Company. They put it bluntly: 'The reconstruction of Iraq's security forces is the prerequisite for an American withdrawal from Iraq. But as the Bush administration extols the continuing progress of the new Iraqi army, the project in Baiji, a desolate oil town at a strategic crossroads in northern Iraq, demonstrates the immense challenges of building an army from scratch in the middle of a bloody insurgency.' Here's what one of the training officers -- Lt. Kenrick Cato, 34, of Long Island, N.Y., who sold his share in a database firm to join the military full time after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks -- tells Shadid and Fainaru:

'I know the party line. You know, the Department of Defense, the U.S. Army, five-star generals, four-star generals, President Bush, Donald Rumsfeld: The Iraqis will be ready in whatever time period. . . . But from the ground, I can say with certainty they won't be ready before I leave. And I know I'll be back in Iraq, probably in three or four years. And I don't think they'll be ready then.'

Time to Level with the Public? Carl P. Leubsdorf writes in the Dallas Morning News: 'A top congressional Democratic supporter of U.S. action in Iraq said Thursday that President Bush should make a nationally televised speech and 'level with the American people' about the long road ahead there. 'Faced with declining public support, Mr. Bush needs to tell Americans 'it's going to take a lot more time . . . at least through the end of 2006,' and explain what still has to be done there, Sen. Joe Biden told reporters after returning from his fifth visit to Iraq.' The Delaware senator, senior Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, said he gave his suggestion Tuesday to Stephen Hadley, Mr. Bush's national security adviser, after finding 'a total disconnect' between the situation in Iraq and optimistic statements by Mr. Bush and his top aides. . . .