July 14, 2005

A B.D. Poll!

UPDATE (in italics): Stripping out four of the highest and lowest scores (two 8s, the risible .424, and a 3), and averaging out respondent's numbers when they gave more than one--we come out to 5.515 (just shy of a full point below B.D.'s ranking). That's not quite a lame duck, but it ain't too far. Thanks for the feedback.

On a scale of 1 to 10--with 1 being a duck so lame it's crippled on the side of the highway and left for dead; and 10 a hyper-sprightly Duckie-in-Chief ready for Big 'N Noble Things ahead--where does George Bush rank just now? With Social Security reform not going too swimmingly, the Rove thingie, Iraq-hard-as-hell--it all looks a bit grim. On the other hand, the economy is proving quite resilient (when o' when will the market tank, many of my professional contacts wonder as they look on bemused!?!), Iraq could yet prove a success, and he has a chance to shape the direction of the Supreme Court for decades to come (with at least one if not three or more Justices vacating during the rest of the term). Meantime, his poll numbers are holding up, all told, pretty OK if not gangbusters.

I say, while there is an inexorable systemic aspect to the creeping lame-duckdum too, of course, what a shame if the next three years are increasingly impotent ones, no? On the international stage--there is still much to accomplish--soldiering on to achieve our objectives in Iraq and also a chance to resucitate the peace process after Sharon's Gaza withdrawal. (Also, alas, there are potential crises looming with each of NoKo and Iran). Presidents often end up focusing on the overseas during their second terms--not least because they are increasingly lame ducks--and conserve more of their power in the Commander-in-Chief role in the realm of foreign policy. Still, if Rove goes overboard, Bush would be profoundly wounded. Ditto protracted bitter fights a la Bork sucking his energies. Put differently, major domestic crises will inevitably impact (negatively) his ability to achieve meaningful ends on the world stage.

So here's hoping the duck doesn't get too lame. B.D.'s current rating? A 6.5 (that drops south of 5 immediately if Fitzerald fingers Rove for some legally afoul malfeasance--which I currently rate a low probability, all told, but who the hell knows, really?).

What say you? A number please...we'll crunch the blended average later. And remember, as Wolf says, this is an unscientific poll....

Posted by Gregory at July 14, 2005 05:25 AM | TrackBack (2)

I'll give him a 5 with a down arrow. Time is running out and Iraq will continue to consume his presidency.

Yes, the Court appointments are huge.

Posted by: POTUS B at July 14, 2005 04:45 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I'm tempted to match your grade to be quite honest. That said I don't want to be a complete sheep so I'll go with a 6. To be honest it's difficult as I think the coin is still up in the air and spinning and we aren't really going to be able to judge for a little while yet.

If you'd asked this prior to the election I'd have gone for a 5 or even a 4. Heck, if you ask it next week I still might.

Posted by: Anthony at July 14, 2005 04:45 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

5 or 5.5. I think he's not a lame duck enough, quite frankly. He still has the ability to screw up America's long term future in so many different ways that it's hard to put him down below this. Many of his challenges are really in the foreign policy arena, so he's pretty much on his own to screw them up or drive them to success. Hard to be a lame duck there.

Posted by: just me at July 14, 2005 04:51 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


You're forgetting that Rove has OBL in his desk drawer.

Posted by: Regret at July 14, 2005 05:11 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

er, but Regret: It ain't October yet.

Posted by: greg at July 14, 2005 05:13 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


but only because he still has the power to screw lots of stuff up solely because he is the President.

In terms of effective leadership, "2" would be an exaggeration. The GOP rats may not yet be deserting their sinking ship, but they know that the lower decks are already flooded....

Posted by: p.lukasiak at July 14, 2005 05:50 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


Real progress in Pakistan/India relationship
Deficit number will continue to drop and stock market rise
Afghanistanís parliamentary election
Iraq's constitution in the next several months
North Korea is back negotiating
Africa's Aid package is better than ever
Iran may be closer to tipping point from inside

These all are opportunities that he can shine from a good result

Rove story is non-issue. If Rove was the source, Judith Millar would have been a free woman....anti-Rove group are so desperate to nail him down, but it will not happen. Wilson is known to have lied before, I won't be surprise if we find out that Wilson is the source himself.

Posted by: Vida at July 14, 2005 06:12 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

A solid 5, with the potential to move up to a 6, or even a 7 depending on the result of the '06 midterm elections.

Of course, it also has the potential to drop to a 3 if Iraq goes to hell, the economy tanks, or a scandal- a real one, not stuff like Plame or Guantanamo- comes up. But considering the scandal-quotient of this administration with the one prior, that seems to be a very remote possibility.

Posted by: rosignol at July 14, 2005 06:31 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


And that's being generous.

All but the most deluded are now seeing this presidency for the dusaster that it is.

Posted by: avedis at July 14, 2005 12:41 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

About a 3. Trending down.

Posted by: Doug at July 14, 2005 01:54 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Off the top of my head, from a big Bush fan:

Foreign Policy: 9
(war on terror in general, 9; Iraq war - which is going better than any reasonable person could have reasonably expected, though he does get demerits for the incorrect "slam dunk" on WMD - 8; other issues, such as avoiding Kyoto - 8)

Economic policy: 9
(shepherding the economy to its currently excellent position, back from recession, Sept 11, and Enron - 10; tax cuts - 8; spending discipline - 5)

Other: 6
(major demerits for signing the anti-First Amendment McCain-Feingold, horrendous Sarbanes-Oxley, and spendthrift Prescription Drug bill; a plus for No Child Left Behind)

Overall: 8

Posted by: Al at July 14, 2005 02:29 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Politically about a 6, because Bush has an unusually strong hold on the Republican Party's base and on Republicans in Congress. On substance about a 4, because that hold has its origins in things like tax cuts, "values" and the war on terrorism. It doesn't help quite as much when Bush is trying to do things he didn't campaign on, like get trade agreements ratified.

The political side is all most people are thinking about. Consider, though, recent two-term Presidencies. They didn't head toward lame-duck status because their chief could not run again, but for other reasons mostly having to do with things the President had done in his first term or things he could easily have avoided doing early in his second. Clinton of course was hobbled in his second four years by his efforts to conceal his womanizing, and to a lesser extent by problems stemming from how he funded his reelection effort in 1996. Reagan stumbled into Iran-Contra against the advice of his most capable and experienced subordinates. Nixon laid the foundations and put up the walls for Watergate well before January 1973. Eisenhower is a special case because of his heart problems. But Truman's last four years were spectacularly productive in many ways.

Genuine lame-duck status, where a President can get little done because everyone knows he will soon be replaced, is not inevitable in any administration until about the last 6-9 months of the second term. A President with no real agenda, or who has gotten the things he wanted done during his first term, can bring lame-duck status on himself.

Posted by: JEB at July 14, 2005 02:54 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Make mine a 7.75 and sinking.

Posted by: Tamquam Leo Rugiens at July 14, 2005 02:56 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

5.5 and trending down.

The past six months have been bad for his presidency - Schiavo, Social Security, Downing Street coupled with down polls on Iraq as the violence and casualties continue, Rove, some provocative open drilling and mining upsetting traditional GOPers out West, a mixed bag on the economy (wages down + health care, college costs, and gas prices up + corporate profits, and CEO salarie up (way up in the latter) = exacerbation of disparity), etc.

It's not all bad, but this is weaker than he's ever been...

Posted by: Eric Martin at July 14, 2005 03:28 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

7 with a down arrow. Although he has had some troubles on the domestic front since the begining of the second term, none of them are insurmountable. He seems to be at a low point right now, but absent the Rove thing really blowing up, there is nothing to stop him from regaining popular support. He still has 3 and a half years to work with.

That said, I think the way the White House has dealt with some high profile issues this year indicates a lack of preparedness, that is why I put the down arrow.

Posted by: dre2k5 at July 14, 2005 04:05 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

hmm, first attempt did not work...


lots o' bad news and trends but in the '06 election the Dems will find a way to screw up and give W legs.

Posted by: Jim, Mtn View, CA at July 14, 2005 04:29 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

6 would be my gut instinct until November 2006, but factoring in the 'misunderestimated' factor yields an 8.


Posted by: Toby928 at July 14, 2005 04:40 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

George W. is a lame duck (by strict definition), so I'd think you'd have to give him a number on the low end of the scale. In addition, his overall popularity/approval ratings are down (which limits his ability to really help in the mid-term elections), Social Security was supposed to be the "next big thing", but seems mostly to be floundering. What other domestic agenda does he have? His spending policies are getting the libertarian-types upset, and he has to push a social conservative out for the Supreme Court or he loses their support (though if he does, that makes a confirmation fight that much harder). The fighting in Afghanistan seems to have increased (negative headlines). On the other hand, Iraq seems to have bottomed out (bad, but not getting any worse), North Korea has returned to the table, the economy seems decent, and there have been no further terrorists attacks within the US.

I'd give him a 3.75 and call it stable. The Supreme Court nomination and Rove Thing have sucked all the air out of politics right now, so neither good nor bad news is making it into the public's sight.

Posted by: baltar at July 14, 2005 05:25 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


Posted by: Eric at July 14, 2005 06:14 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

5.5. Pretty much what I expected so far, although I was actually pleasantly surprised to see him take on SS, as it was one of his campaign planks that I liked but had doubts he'd actually follow through on. The specifics of the plan (the few that we know about, anyway) leave a lot to be desired, but execution has never been a strong point of this administration.

The economy would be recovering even if the president had done absolutely nothing (indeed, he's done nothing to impact the economy in his second term), and I'm not sure whether the long-term impact of the tax cuts may be more negative than positive, especially if the current account deficit situation continues to be unaddressed and creates a crisis of some sort (I've already questioned the wisdom of passing a supply-side tax cut to fight a capex recession).

Final thought. I wonder whether the whole Rove/Plame thing will turn out to be a faking of weakness to kill the issue once and for all, much like the whole National Guard thing?

Posted by: fling93 at July 14, 2005 06:54 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

6.75 and trending up. Iraq is improving and will look much better in 3 years. Ditto for the economy. The SCOTUS fight to come will likely benefit Bush substantially. The deal cut on appellate judges will benefit Bush because the Dems will have a hard time fillibustering with a straight face, and opinion polls show a solid majority thinks the President has a right to appoint someone who agrees with him. The '06 midterms look very good for the Reps at this point, although there is an eternity of time between now & Nov. '06. There are many more Dems up in Bush states than there are Reps up in Kerry states. Finally, the Dems are making the same mistake re the Plame affair that Reps made with Clinton - going into a feeding frenzy when most people just don't care (especially true here, given that it is unlikely that a crime was committed, with the possible exception of something as yet unknown regarding perjury, obstruction of justice or the like - note again how well pursuing this worked for the Reps).

Posted by: Ben at July 14, 2005 07:58 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

His influence today -- with everyone screaming for Rove's head and months of Iraq bad news -- about a 4. He looks toxic, out of touch, and wedded to Iraq status quo.

This will bounce up and down, rather than have a firm trend line. The news has gone against Bush pretty steadily since the GOP's ill advised Schiavo intervention. It strikes me that a pro-democracy revolution or a supreme court pick who isn't the expected Godawful Neanderthal will change that luck.

This country has add when it comes to evaluating Bush. A bad six months can be erased by one good week. Bush is actually smart enough to realize this -- it's at the the root of all the misunderestimating that goes on with him.

Posted by: Appalled Moderate at July 14, 2005 09:26 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

7, on your criteria (efficacy, not quality--quality would be a 2).

Posted by: Anderson at July 14, 2005 10:49 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I'll go with the 5.5 crowd but just because he has the Repub machine behind him. If Iraq continues as it has, Rove goes to jail, or the country's financial bill comes due too soon, hes a dead duck at 1. The press is looking mighty mad and the new poll showing he's at 41% honnesty and 46% approval ratings doesn't bode well.

Posted by: T.H. at July 15, 2005 06:00 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

If he was not the world leader in the war on terror he would be at a 2, but his leadership in this respect has rubbed off on hoi poloi and gives him some political capital that he can use domestically. This is not to say that he has done well domestically--it just gives him a moderately attentive audience.

Domestically: I actually liked the idea of tying SocSec benefits to some purchasing power and then indexing to prices instead of wages, but this has not caught on and I don't think it will. The economy is looking strong, but deficits are still a real concern for people. No Child is very unpopular with teachers and it is underfunded. Schiavo was a gaffe. Despite what one thinks about Abu and Gitmo, the incredulity and "not me or my friends" response was poor. I think his largest domestic failing, however, is with respect to medical costs: prescription drug card is confusing to seniors and of questionable efficacy, but more importantly, EVERYONE agrees that health care costs are out of control, and he has not even touched the issue.

Foreign policy: preemption and spreading freedom is dangerous, but it has had some good results--most notably Libya. Though it did not cause the NoKo crisis, it raised tensions, but this may not be a bad thing. The Agreed Framework had serious flaws, and the new round of brinkmanship opens the possibility for a new agreement based on fundamental reform; of course this will not be easy to negotiate, but other exteme scenarios arn't very likely since NoKo is not a suicidal regime. Behind the friendly face of Pakistan is a potentially explosive situation; I would like more attention to this. Europe can complain, I don't think that is too serious. Of course the big question marks are Iraq and Iran.

Conclusion: without the war on terror he would be a 2, but his leadership in this respect pushes him up to 5-6.

Posted by: Flyingrinn at July 15, 2005 07:36 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink
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