Saturday, June 30, 2007

Congressional job approval rating at 24%, 71% disapprove.

I was intrigued by this, but certainly not surprised. Congress now has a lower approval rating than the President, even though they often cite Bush’s dismal numbers to their credit. But the interesting question is why? Here we have a Republican President and a Democrat majority in Congress, yet both are sub-30 in approval from the American public.

Here is my theory. Unlike some of the pundits, I don’t think there is a “moderate majority” out there anymore. Twenty years ago, yes. Even ten years ago this may have been the case. But now, we are very polarized politically. Maybe 20 percent of the voters would fit in the moderate middle, but I think even that is an overestimate. What I see in this country is a large number of people either very progressive (read: liberal) or very conservative, without much in between. This should make for a very interesting 2008 campaign.

How else could we explain the constant venom and vitriol that has infected this nation? Face it, there is a lot of nastiness out there from both sides of the aisle, no one is innocent on this matter. We have a Republican President who has veered in many ways from his traditional conservative agenda (i.e. the immigration bill and the huge spending). He has alienated his conservative base more than once, and it seems to be more common since he won reelection. And the progressive base will never approve of a Republican leader, hence the poor approval numbers.

And then there’s the Democrat Congress, yet another group of “do-nothings” like the prior Congress. They once had the support of the far-Left, but ever since the Iraq vote authorizing more money, this support has waned. And, of course, the conservative base will never approve of the Left in Congress hence their low approval ratings.

So we have a President and a Congress that have lost the support of their base, perhaps leaving only the moderates who approve of their middle-of-the-aisle antics. And still, so many of the presidential candidates make hardened efforts to look appealing to the moderate middle. One wonders, in light of these approval numbers, if that’s a wise policy.


Anonymous said...

I read that story too. God knows what's going to happen in 2008 with either party not well liked.

anonymous - rudy said...

Die hard conservatives approved of the president. They also disapprove of the new congress. They voted in favor of war. Those in the middle and far left are disappointed in this congress's lack of political courage to unfund the war that the majority of America strongly opposes.

I believe that late August will be time for the new congress to show if it truly has the courage to defund a very unpopular war. If they have the courage to do so their approval rating might shoot through the roof, like when they were elected. It's what they were elected to do in the minds of most political junkies.

Dan Trabue said...

It has been pointed out that while "The Congress" polls poorly (rightfully so, seems to me), individual congresspeople do not poll nearly so poorly as the Prez, for the most part. And especially not in any one congressperson's district.

In other words, the people generally approve of their congressperson, it's all the rest they don't like.

So, in order to compare apples to apples, you really need to compare the elected official's polling position among his or her constituents. In that regards, Bush is doing terribly and I have no doubt that he will be remembered in history as one our worst ever presidents.

For what it's worth.

Anonymous said...

Not the worst president. Bad? Maybe. I dunno. The worst? Not a chance.

I'd go with Johnson (the first one, after Lincoln died.)

But let's face it Dan, both parties aren't look upon so highly right now.

John Washburn said...

Worst President? Don't know, but it's not Bush. I could make a good argument that Bush has suffered the most difficult presidency (next to Lincoln, of course).

Robert has a point. Andrew Johnson was horrible. A lot of racial tensions could have been avoided were it not for his reconstruction policies.

LBJ was pretty bad as well.

But it's hard for me to imagine anything worse than the disaster that we call the Carter administration. In our democracy, it's hard for one man to cause too much damage, but in 4 years he made an absolute mess of everything he touched, and still does. The guy must be jinxed or something. He is hands down the winner for worst ever.

As for Congress, this is much more than Iraq. I have a hard time believing that if Congress ended the war their popularity would surge. I don't think so.

Dan Trabue said...

Note that I didn't say the worst president, just one of the worst. I'd agree that LBJ was pretty bad. As was the first Johnson. And Truman's bombing of Hiroshima/Nagasaki (setting the highmark for acts of terrorism) alone ranks him as one of the worst ever.

And note: That's three horrible Democrats I've listed right along with Bush (although I'd suggest that Reagan was in the top five hall of shame) - so I at least can't be accused of partisanship.

John Washburn said...

"And Truman's bombing of Hiroshima/Nagasaki (setting the highmark for acts of terrorism) alone ranks him as one of the worst ever."

That has to be one of the most ridiculous things I have ever read, and I read Hillary Clinton's book!

Terrorism? That's insanity on a Gore level. I guess we should have voted to end funding on that war too. Or redeployed, or surrendered, or whatever it is you appeasers like to do.

Terrorism? Talk about a warped knowledge of history. Do you have any idea how many lives Truman saved? Or does it not matter to you?

Dan Trabue said...

"Do you have any idea how many lives Truman saved?"

No. No one does, since we can't predict what hasn't happened. I DO know that many - including Truman's own generals - said that the bombing of the two cities was not a military necessity.

What I DO know is that the US targeted and killed hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians - again, setting a shameful highwater mark for terrorizing civilians (and if that isn't terrorism, I don't know what is) that has gone unmatched in history.

"It is my opinion that the use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender because of the effective sea blockade and the successful bombing with conventional weapons."

"The lethal possibilities of atomic warfare in the future are frightening. My own feeling was that in being the first to use it, we had adopted an ethical standard common to the barbarians of the Dark Ages. I was not taught to make war in that fashion, and wars cannot be won by destroying women and children."

~Admiral William Leahy

John Washburn said...

"The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender because of the effective sea blockade and the successful bombing with conventional weapons."

With all due respect to Admiral Leahy, but history has proven him wrong.

Some people are so blinded by their blatant dislike of America that reason just seems to escape them. Your way of thinking is so far in the outreaches of reality that I wonder how you function day to day. It's not even worth debating because debate requires at least some level of reason and understanding.

I'm sure Japan was on the brink of surrender. Of course, I have no idea why it took not one, but two A-bombs to push them over that brink, but I'm sure the Admiral was right, clearly they were teetering on defeat. And Iwo Jima was definitely a good indication of their readiness to surrender where 21,000 of the 22,000 Japanese died defending 8 square miles of real estate over 37 days just 6 months before Hiroshima. After all, 216 of those soldiers DID surrender. Yes, that's solid evidence the Japanese Empire was ready to give up.

I'm sure Marshall and MacArthur were wrong when they estimated one million allied casualties and 3 million Japanese casualties in a Japanese mainland invasion. Yeah, what do they know. Certainly no more than Admiral William Leahy.

Dan Trabue said...

I love America. I love her ideals. And, like Gen Eisenhower, Adm. Leahy, Gen MacArthur and other people quoted at that website, I don't think targeting large populations of civilians is within our ideals.

In fact, I think that sort of action is to vomit on the flag and piss on the constitution. It is a rejection of all America stands for.

Terrorism is terrorism, no matter who engages in it. Targeting civilians is wrong. Always.

Don't debate me if you don't wish to. I'm not even really trying to debate. I'm just pointing to the reality that a good number of the military and presidential advisors and conservatives of the day thought that bombing cities was wrong and not necessary.

Some people have so wanted to believe in the ideal of a perfect America that they create legends and myths to help support that blind belief despite what happened in the real world.

John Washburn said...

You think Japan was desperate to surrender, so desperate that it took more than one atomic device to convince them to surrender...and you think I have "blind belief"? Nice.

Some people with believe anything so long as it involves a negative image of America

Dan Trabue said...

No, I'm pointing out the reality that that's what many leaders - military, conservative and otherwise - of the time were saying.

And again, I'm opposed to targeting civilian men, women and children because I have a POSITIVE image of America and believe we are better than engaging in terrorism.

Please John, don't twist what I've said when I've pointed out clearly just the opposite.

John Washburn said...

With respect, I twisted nothing. Your history on this site has been pretty consistent as anti-American. You seem to take any opportunity to rib-kick this country and the "bad" things that we've done, without giving much consideration to the other possibilities. Or, in short, you seem to not give the US the benefit of the doubt, even when reason and common sense dictates otherwise.

All of that is fine. You have the right to say what you want, but I just don't appreciate it when someone speaks of America this way and then talks about how much they love her and think positively of her. Sorry, but I don't buy it, and it's quite insulting to think that we're all too dumb to recognize your opinions for what they are.

So, you don't have a positive image of America, and your words tell me as much. To be honest, until we are demilitarized and socialistic, you probably won't think positively of America.

If I misjudged you, then I apologize, but I'm just basing this opinion on your very own words.

Dan Trabue said...

My words have always and consistently said that I love America and her ideals and when we don't live up to those ideals (and I'm sure you admit that happens) I push her to return to living up to those.

I am NOT anti-America, no matter how many times you may say the opposite. My words have been quite clear.

You're a reasonable fella, John, you wouldn't have me to be quiet when I think America is off on the wrong foot, would you? That wouldn't be right, would it?

The person who refuses to criticize his or her country when that country is wrong is no patriot.

Just because I think bombing children is horrible does not make me anti-America. Just because I think committing war crimes in Nicaragua is criminal, does not make me anti-America. What it means is that I have an opinion about right and wrong and I express it.

After all, you're critical of the majority of Congress, does that make you anti-America? You're critical of those Americans who would have us pollute less - does that make you anti-America? You probably thought Carter was a horrible president - does that make you anti-America?

That fine conservative Cal Thomas just wrote an article I actually agree with in which he tells "conservatives" to quit calling "liberals" unpatriotic, merely because they disagree with you. Amen.

John Washburn said...

I find it interesting that you have such deep concern for civillian loss of life, yet you openly advocate for full American withdrawal from Iraq. Have you actually given any thought to the aftermath? Do "The Killing Fields" ring a bell? Seems to me like you principles only apply when they fit your own agenda. Are civillian deaths only wrong when we're responsible? And would we not be responsible for all the deaths after a full retreat from Iraq?

Dan Trabue said...

Those are good questions, John.

Of course, we can't turn a blind eye to all the suffering in the world, just as we cannot willing take part in causing suffering of innocents in the world.

That's one of the problems with war-making as a solution: It's too costly and ineffective to allow us to work globally. We've been involved in a defeated little nation like Iraq for longer than it took to end WWII! And there was/is no contest in the size of "forces." But by wasting hundreds of billions of dollars and contributing to the loss of tens of thousands of lives - ours and theirs - we have no significant wherewithal remaining to deal with Darfur, Liberia or other serious trouble-spots in the world.

So, no, we don't turn a blind eye to deadly despots (of course, we should begin by not supporting despots in the first place!), but we work smarter, rather than deadlier.

I advocate international efforts to coordinate plans and strategies to deal with places that are out of control or where there is a corrupt regime.

I advocate joining, strengthening and supporting the International Criminal Court (and doing so by apologizing for the war crimes we were convicted of in Nicaragua and paying our fines there - lead by example).

But, I'm pretty sure I've pointed out what Just Peacemakers advocate before. There are many good ideas out there as to what we should be doing rather than invading countries such as Iraq unprovoked and with no significant plan on what to do other than, "I hope they'll welcome us as heroes..."

I openly advocate withdrawal from Iraq because history tells us that it is near impossible for an occupying force to "win" in a country where they are unwelcome. We need another plan...