It's hard to laugh when you see the Beltway press, yet again, type up stories about how Bush is set for a job approval ratings comeback. Like Linus waiting for the Great Pumpkin, the Beltway press has been sure--just positive--that Bush is gonna rebound any minute now. And hey, if it happens as Bush boards Air Forces one for the last time, than the press wants to make sure it's there to capture the magic.
Believe it or not, two Times writers online recently set aside space to alert readers how Bush's job approval ratings are bound to go up between now and January. i.e. "Bush may well be buffing up those numbers before he departs for Texas." The news hook was a report from Gallup which noted lame duck presidents have often enjoyed a modest gain in approval rating during their last two months in office. And because, according to Gallup, Bush's God-awful approval ratings have gone from 24% to 28% recently, the Times suggested Bush was in line for a boost.
Two things. The LA Times' analysis completely ignored the fact that America the just entered the Great Recession and that might, just might, stand in the way of Bush's big bounce. (Jobless people tend to dislike the president.) And second, the Times writers remained mostly blissfully unaware that Bush is the most consistently unpopular president in the history of 20th century polling. Oh sure, they make passing reference to his unpopularity. But the Times makes no effort to highlight the fact that Bush remains an absolute freak of job approval nature.
It's true that Harry Truman and Richard Nixon dropped down into the 20's in terms of job approval ratings. But Truman's was a quick dip and then he was back to the races. Nixon's fall, of course, came courtesy of a sweeping criminal enterprise he was running out of the White House. No president in the history of modern America has ever come close to posting the type of unimaginably bad job approval ratings, and do it for as long as Bush has.
But hey, he's due for a comeback!
Meanwhile, here's the Times Andrew Malcolm writing about Bush: "His popularity has jumped to 28%. Still not that great." I'm almost certain Malcolm, who once worked as Laura Bush's flack, was not being facetious. He was being serious. He was serious that Bush had jumped to 28%. And he was serious that no, 28% is "still not that great."
The real punchline came in the form of headline to Malcom's post post [emphasis added]: "With only 46 days left, Americans start re-liking George W. Bush."