Wash. Times inflated Bush's approval ratings, falsely portrayed unemployment rate under Bush
Research ››› ››› RAPHAEL SCHWEBER-KOREN & MORGAN WEILAND
In an editorial, The Washington Times asserted that President Bush "had very high poll ratings (80 percent to 90 percent) throughout his first term" and went on to say that during his tenure, he "reduced unemployment to still record-levels." In fact, Bush's approval ratings peaked between 80 percent and 95 percent in September 2001 before trending downward through the end of his first term, which he finished at around 50 percent. Additionally, the unemployment rate under Bush after the 2001 recession bottomed out at 4.4 percent in March 2007 -- a higher level than when Bush took office in January 2001, when the rate was 4.2 percent.
In an August 7 editorial headlined "Bush isn't the bad guy," The Washington Times asserted that the president "had very high poll ratings (80 percent to 90 percent) throughout his first term" and went on to say that during his tenure, he "reduced unemployment to still record-levels." In fact, according to an "estimate of approval trend" provided by University of Wisconsin professor Charles Franklin, Bush's approval ratings were between 50 percent and 60 percent prior to September 2001, at which point they did indeed peak between 80 percent and 95 percent before trending downward through the rest of his first term. Bush finished his first term with approval ratings around 50 percent.
Additionally, the Times' assertion that Bush "reduced unemployment to still record-levels" is false. According to the Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate climbed to 6.3 percent in June 2003, and then bottomed out at 4.4 percent in March 2007 -- a higher level than when Bush took office in January 2001. At that time, the rate was 4.2 percent. In a February 5, 2001, post on its website, the BLS further reported that before it increased to 4.2 percent in January 2001, "[t]he jobless rate had ranged from 3.9 to 4.1 percent since October 1999." Moreover, according to the BLS, the "record" for lowest unemployment rate since 1948 is 2.5 percent, reached in both May and June of 1953.
From the August 7 Washington Times editorial:
The popularity of a president is notoriously fickle. Put your stock in polling and you can get a good sense of how the general public feels about the nation's 43rd president right now. But is he really the boogeyman he has been portrayed to be? The arbiter of all things evil and wrong with our country? Is there nothing good to his credit? History will be the ultimate judge, but we would argue that despite the "all-time low" ranking, it is not reflective of what this "unpopular" president has really accomplished during his eight-year presidency. Furthermore, politicians on the right and left who continue to capitalize on the president's mistakes for political fodder could do so to their detriment.
For a little perspective, consider that Mr. Bush had very high poll ratings (80 percent to 90 percent) throughout his first term. This is a president who inherited a recession, was rocked by corporate scandal, led in the midst of the worst terrorist attack on our nation and went to war. He also grew the economy, reduced unemployment to still record-levels, increased literacy rates, grew minority homeownership and small businesses, kept terrorists at bay, toppled a sadistic regime and reformed Medicare.