This day has been long coming. The graphs have shown it would soon be upon us: Now, here we are. With this new Harris poll, available through the Wall Street Journal, President Bush claims the titlelong held by Richard Nixon: Least Liked President Ever (or at least since there have been polls). And this data comes to us from before the USA Today reported on Bush's NSA secretly monitoring our phone records.
Bush's approval rating is now at 29%, and disapproval at an astonishing 71%. Well, it's astonishing that it took so long to get there. But it's also record-setting. The best Nixon could do was 66%. Nobody else comes close. Bush is breaking new ground.
Among Democrats, 10% approve of the job Bush is doing. But that's just those wacky Democrats (although a fair number of Republicans have switched parties during Bush's reign). Among Independents, support is surely much higher. Well, not really. It's actually at 19%.
The one thing you can say for Bush is that Congress is even more despised than he is. A whopping 18% of Americans approve of the job Congress is doing, while 80% do not. (Two percent were apparently unclear on what Congress is.) Dislike of Congress has been dropping in recent weeks, months, years, and decades. When Nixon was deeply despised, Congress was not. But, of course, Congress in those days was a branch of government that asserted independent powers and challenged the abuses of the Executive.
What specifically are people upset about today? In order of priority, according to the Harris poll: the war, immigration, gas and oil prices, the economy, and healthcare.
Or, here's another possibility, the Democratic Party could oppose Bush on some of those issues. In fact, Republican Congress Members are beginning to distance themselves from Bush. And the Republican National Committee, revealing its deepest fear, is blasting the media with talking points in opposition to the threat of investigations or impeachment should the Democrats take control after this year's elections.
The Republicans are even claiming, baselessly and ludicrously, that it would help their election prospects if the Democrats threaten to hold Bush and Cheney accountable. Many of the Democrats in Congress are falling for it and promising not to impeach anybody. But look at Bush's disapproval among Democrats (90%) and approval among Republicans (67%). Which side will turn out more voters in an off-year election if the issue is investigation/impeachment of Bush?
The RNC is pounding away with the myth that the Democrats are gung-ho for impeachment, a tactic that may backfire by turning out support for the Democrats. It will come down to a question of whether voters believe the RNC's story that Democrats really plan to stick up for the public and the Constitution, or Democrats in Congress believe the RNC's claim that impeachment is what Bush really wants and consequently assure voters that he's in no danger of it.
This calls to mind an old story that, in the version I read to my son, bears the title "Brer Bush and the Impeachment Baby."
One day Brer Democrat thought of how Brer Bush had been cutting up his capers and bouncing around until he'd come to believe that he was the boss of the whole gang. Brer Democrat thought of a way to lay some bait for that uppity Brer Bush.
Well, he didn't have to wait long either, 'cause by and by Brer Bush came pacing down the road--lippity-clippity, clippity-lippity--just as sassy as a jaybird. Brer Democrat, he lay low. Brer Bush came prancing along until he saw the Impeachment-Baby and then he sat back on his hind legs like he was astonished. The Impeachment-Baby just sat there, she did, and Brer Democrat, he lay low.
"Good morning!" says Brer Bush, says he. "Nice weather we're having this morning," says he, smirking and sticking his ears out.