At Home and Abroad, Bush Has Some Explaining To Do

By Gus Tyler

Published January 31, 2003, issue of January 31, 2003.
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President Bush is involved in a two-front war. One is being fought on the international front and the other upon the domestic front. The former is the war against Iraq; the latter is the war against a threatening “depression” devil. And he is losing both.

Who says so? It’s not The New York Times and not The Washington Post, which are not normally in the camp of either the GOP or Bush, but The Wall Street Journal — not on its editorial page, but in its news reports. On Page One, running across two columns, a headline reads: “Bush Runs Into New Opposition to Quick Action Against Iraq.”

The news, which is not “new,” is that France and Germany, which hold decisive seats on the United Nations Security Council, are opposed to hasty action against Iraq. Speaking for both countries, Germany’s Chancellor Gerhard Schröder declared, “We agree completely to harmonize our positions as closely as possible to find a peaceful solution to the Iraq crisis.”

The Journal also reports that “in a day of tense trans-Atlantic signals, Mr. Bush was rebuffed by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which blocked a U.S. request to begin preparations for a military backup in the event of a war.”

These are the reactions of nations and organizations upon which the U.S. depends heavily if it is not to find itself going it alone in a war with Iraq. But, what about the American people? How do they feel about Bush’s impatience to start the shooting?

The Wall Street Journal/NBC pollsters took a poll on January 19-21 in which they asked, “Should the U.S. plan to take military action against Iraq after the January 27 deadline, or should the inspectors be given more time?” The poll found that 61% (almost two-thirds) favored giving “inspectors more time, while only 32% (less than a third) would “plan to take military action.”

On the domestic front, the same poll found that 49% of the respondents, a plurality, disapprove of Bush’s handling of the economy, while 61 percent doubt his economic package, particularly the dividend tax cuts, will do much to foster growth.

To add to what must be bad news for the White House, the Journal reports: “The Dow Jones industrials fell 1.5% to 8318.73, wiping out this year’s gains.”

Explaining this discouraging piece of news, the Journal suggests that there is a link between what is happening in the domestic economy and what is happening on the international front. “Worry about a war,” reports the Journal, “was blamed for the drop.”

“The looming war, in other words,” reports the Journal, “is putting a double whammy on stocks. It isn’t just making investors hunker down; it is also contributing to the gloomy outlook that is being offered up by corporate leaders, right now, and that is making investors even more pessimistic.”

While all of the above should set the President thinking about both his domestic and international policies, he could easily — as has been his manner so far — brush it all aside by pointing to the solid support he is getting from the American people.

But, the poll that reveals the growing disappointment of the American people about Bush’s economic and international policies also carries a report on Bush’s approval rating. “The president’s approval rating,” according to the Journal/NBC poll, “fell to a pre-Sept. 11 level of 54%.”

Is the president aware of all this? Maybe not, because they say, “when ignorance is bliss ’tis folly to be wise.”






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