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News ::
The Mirage (english)
09 Aug 2003
The smoke-and-mirror administration is running out of steam...w
You know how a mirage works, right? From a distance, atmospheric conditions cause a refraction of light, catching and projecting the reflection of some faraway image that appears to be right in front of you. It's an optical illusion. You see them while driving down the road on a hot summer day, sudden pools of blue mercury that fill up the dips ahead and then evaporate before your eyes when you get close enough to see the thing for what it really is - or rather, what it isn't.

President George Dubya Bush's approval ratings, at last poll, measured 53 percent (with a two percent margin for error). That's down five points from last month; given the spectacular heights he has maintained in this category for so long, the results can only be called an avalanche of failure. In particular, his support has eroded among women across the board, but mostly among older women. Those in the lower income brackets have also decided that they no longer approve of the job the president is doing.

Wonder why?

It was no thong-slung temptress that chopped the man down to size, nor was it the length of his wooden nose now that the facts are coming out about our intelligence standards prior to the occupation of Iraq. Bush's collapse didn't even have anything to do with the quagmire that is emerging over there, as these numbers followed nearly a week straight without any troops being killed. Have you figured it out yet, what this mysterious suction on Bush's approval rating might be?

It's the economy, of course. Despite the best hopes of the administration's supporters and planners, Americans have become more concerned about the way things are going at home than they are about which member of Saddam's family got whacked this week. When asked what they thought the president's priority ought to be, 57 percent of respondents picked "the economy", while just 27 percent chose "the war on terror" (the latter figure, by the way, matches the percentage of Americans who admitted to having been on the verge of a nervous breakdown... in 1996).

This represents a polar opposite of what we felt just seven months ago. The best spin you can put on it is that Bush is a victim of his own success, doing such a good job of managing our security that Americans have forgotten about it altogether. That's not likely to be the case. Americans have become aware, as the fog in our heads has worn off during this regime's thus far dizzying reign, that our economic security is tantamount, and then some, to our national security. Without one, the other doesn't matter, or cannot exist.

This must drive conservatives crazy, being relegated to the fringe of mainstream thought. Just when they thought they had a handle on things, the toe-in-the-water polls have spoken volumes about the direction in which the public's mood has swung. We want things at home to be better, and much of that has nothing to do with al-Qaida. We're not seeing our lots improve, and for Bush's popularity to slump at this time raises the question of how he will run his re-election campaign. Absent a primary opponent, he'll have nothing to run on but money and his record. And that is increasingly being viewed as not good enough.

A lot of people are coming around to the realization that we don't really need George W. Bush to be the president. It's not like we've forgotten about the 2000 popular vote, or that his political warts can be covered up by all the pancake makeup he wears on television. Many have grown weary of his swerving tactics, his playing all positions of the outfield so to speak. First he was ignorant (no other word will do) about terrorism, then he pounced on it like a business opportunity, pushing forward an agenda he and his cronies have had their minds set on since before Day One. Somehow that morphed into a foreign entanglement the likes of which we have never seen or wanted, as well as the largest federal bureaucracy ever created. All the while, every other issue that should be on the front burner has been taken off the stove altogether. The amazing thing is that the GOP ever believed such a ploy would work.

One of Bush's favorite expressions is "riding herd". He likes to think of himself as the shepherd of the American people, and that simply will not do. We accepted it due to shock, largely, after September 11th, and the crafty administration string-pullers took advantage of our nature, used it for their own political gain, and hoped that their motives wouldn't be too obvious; too bad.

So you have to wonder what Bush is thinking. He's not one to sit still. You can almost hear Karl Rove's husky voice, whispering in his oversized ear, "Time for another bold move, George..." As a free citizenry, knowing what we know about Bush's personality when it comes to wielding power, we would do well to be wary about what that move might be.
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