CBS and the New York Times recently devoted full write-ups to ex-President Bush’s approval ratings as measured in a CBS/New York Times poll. It seemed to me that it represented grave dancing — and premature grave dancing, at that.
President Bush will leave office as one of the most unpopular departing presidents in history, according to a new CBS News/New York Times poll showing Mr. Bush’s final approval rating at 22 percent.
Seventy-three percent say they disapprove of the way Mr. Bush has handled his job as president over the last eight years.
Ignored, of course, was the Gallup poll CBS reported on just a couple days earlier:
President Bush’s approval rating is rising as his presidency draws to a close, a new Gallup poll finds, and now stands at 34 percent.
Of course, what both of these reports forget to mention is that Bush’s rating is still higher than the Democrat-run Congress.
It will be interesting to see if, in four years, President Obama has his ratings similarly thrashed by the New York Times and CBS. In fact, I predict Obama’s approval ratings will be staggeringly low in four years. Already, there are strangled screams of betrayal coming from the far left. They see what’s coming, though they won’t yet say as much because the honeymoon isn’t over. There’s a rather nasty reaction coming, however, which I predict is not long off. We’re about to see it in its full-throated roar.
You see, while the numbers suggest that there has been no president since Richard Nixon or — depending on how you judge these things — Harry Truman who has left office with a lower approval rating, I dare to suggest that Mr. Bush is going to be vindicated over the next four years by President Obama himself. Vindicated not in rhetoric, since left-wing rhetoric is always and forever vitriolic against any successful Republican. No, Bush will be vindicated thanks to the policies sure to be adopted by Mr. Obama and the Democrat-run Senate, House, and State Dept.
I make this assessment based on the proposition that President Obama is a pragmatist at heart. He goes with what works to keep himself in power. One cannot, after all, be such an astute manager of his own spectacle without being in large part a pragmatist.
If we accept the lessons of history, in this case the Clinton administration, Democrats have learned how to change political reality. They have learned how to alter the perception they are on the run from an unruly mob, into one that suggests what is really going on is that there is a parade — one that they are leading. Finding in their pragmatism something that works and that someone else has offered, and then getting out in front of it as if it was their plan to begin with. This has been their big talent for the last 20 years or so.
Indeed, it is Obama who apparently is doing the most in terms of recognizing (the far left’s bleeding anti-Bush vitriol notwithstanding) that Mr. Bush didn’t do that bad of a job after all. He’s adopting the vast majority of his anti-terrorism and economic policies (i.e., the bailout plans).
Notice, please, the not-so-surprising indications that President Obama plans to work within the structures of Mr. Bush’s anti-terrorism measures. As an example, I mentioned at BitsBlog recently the expanded presidential wiretapping powers, and how the FISA court had ruled in Bush’s favor — a fact little reported by the Dinosaur Media. (Oddly, the report I cited was a New York Times piece.) There has certainly been some argument back and forth over these measures. The fact remains, however, that Obama, while still a senator and presidential candidate, voted for those expanded powers. For all the noise that Mr. Obama is making with regards to water boarding (a practice I should point out was already banned in 2006 under Mr. Bush), Obama has refused repeatedly to explicitly ban all interrogation methods not outlined in the Army Field Manual.
For all the vitriol that has been coming from the left, and specifically out of President Obama’s mouth during the campaign, there’s a difference in tone coming out of the Obama camp over the last several weeks. There has been an abandonment of the hot rhetoric of the leftist in favor of of a liberal forced to face the reality of the world around him (i.e., adpopting existing White House policy). The change in tone is a recognition that the rhetoric that the American public was offered during the election was simply not based on reality.
As President Obama and his people are briefed on what has been happening in the world these last eight years, the insider’s view has given them a completely new perspective on what to do about the situation, resulting in completely different actions as compared to the ones they were telling everyone they would take once they were given the power.
President Obama and his fellow Democrats are now responsible for the outcome of the next four years. They are pragmatic enough to understand that they are the ones who will take it on the chin politically after the next terrorist attack or if the current economic problems continue for long. They’re beginning to understand how wrong they were in chastising Mr. Bush and his policies. Thus, they are adopting them. That, dear reader, is vindication.
They earnestly hope that nobody, particularly on the left, will notice the change in direction.