The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #62901   Message #1724824
Posted By: Amos
22-Apr-06 - 03:48 PM
Thread Name: BS: Popular Views of the Bush Administration
Subject: RE: BS: Popular Views of the Bush Administration
From the New York Times' Paul Krugman: (excerpted):

The Great Revulsion
By Paul Krugman
New York Times Op-Ed

"I have a vision - maybe just a hope - of a great revulsion: a moment in which the American people look at what is happening, realize how their good will and patriotism have been abused, and put a stop to this drive to destroy much of what is best in our country."

I wrote those words three years ago in the introduction to my column collection, "The Great Unraveling." It seemed a remote prospect at the time: Baghdad had just fallen to U.S. troops, and President Bush had a 70 percent approval rating.

Now the great revulsion has arrived. The latest Fox News poll puts Mr. Bush's approval at only 33 percent. According to the polling firm Survey USA, there are only four states in which significantly more people approve of Mr. Bush's performance than disapprove: Utah, Idaho, Wyoming and Nebraska. If we define red states as states where the public supports Mr. Bush, Red America now has a smaller population than New York City.

The proximate causes of Mr. Bush's plunge in the polls are familiar: the heck of a job he did responding to Katrina, the prescription drug debacle and, above all, the quagmire in Iraq.

But focusing too much on these proximate causes makes Mr. Bush's political fall from grace seem like an accident, or the result of specific missteps. That gets things backward. In fact, Mr. Bush's temporarily sky-high approval ratings were the aberration; the public never supported his real policy agenda.

Remember, in 2000 Mr. Bush got within hanging-chad and felon-purge distance of the White House only by pretending to be a moderate. In 2004 he ran on fear and smear, plus the pretense that victory in Iraq was just around the corner. (I've always thought that the turning point of the 2004 campaign was the September 2004 visit of the Iraqi prime minister, Ayad Allawi, a figurehead appointed by the Bush administration who rewarded his sponsors by presenting a falsely optimistic picture of the situation in Iraq.)

The real test of the conservative agenda came after the 2004 election, when Mr. Bush tried to sell the partial privatization of Social Security.

Social Security was for economic conservatives what Iraq was for the neocons, a soft target that they thought would pave the way for bigger conquests. And there couldn't have been a more favorable moment for privatization than the winter of 2004-2005: Mr. Bush loved to assert that he had a "mandate" from the election; Republicans held solid, disciplined majorities in both houses of Congress; and many prominent political pundits were in favor of private accounts.

Yet Mr. Bush's drive on Social Security ran into a solid wall of public opposition, and collapsed within a few months. And if Social Security couldn't be partly privatized under those conditions, the conservative dream of dismantling the welfare state is nothing but a fantasy.

So what's left of the conservative agenda? Not much....