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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Remember How Foreign Policy Was Supposed To Be Bush’s Strong Suit?

And how only the economy could really drag him down? Well, the economy’s still dragging him down (his approval rating on the economy is a dismal 41 percent with 52 percent disapproval), but now his ratings on foreign policy and Iraq are getting almost as bad.
In the latest CBS News poll, just 47 percent approve of his handling of foreign policy, while 44 percent disapprove (independent voters, a proxy for the coveted swing voters Bush needs to get re-elected, give him an even worse rating: 39 percent approval to 47 disapproval). And, for the first time, his approval rating on the situation in Iraq is more negative than positive, 47 percent disapproval to 46 percent approval (independents are more negative, giving him 50 percent disapproval to 38 percent approval).
Maybe that invasion, which always had huge substantive problems, was also a dumb idea politically.
Other findings underscore the precariousness of the Bush administration’s current position. By almost 3:1 (64 percent to 22 percent), the public doesn’t believe the administration has yet developed a clear plan for rebuilding Iraq. That’s a big shift since late April when the public was split down the middle on this question.
The public has also now shifted to the view that the result of the war with Iraq was not worth the loss of American life and other costs of attacking Iraq (47 percent to 43 percent). And, again, among independents, the judgement is even more negative: 50 percent feel that the result of the war wasn’t worth the cost, compared to 41 percent who think it was.
As for Bush’s $87 billion request for additional funds to rebuild Iraq, the public is overwhelmingly opposed to spending this money (66 percent to 26 percent). They tend to believe that spending this money will mean cuts in spending on programs such as education and health care (48 percent), rather than affordable without such cuts (37 percent). And, of three options presented to the public to pay for the rebuilding of Iraq, eliminating the recent tax cuts is the only one that seems remotely salable politically (53 percent disapproval). The other two options, increasing the deficit and cutting spending on domestic programs receive stratospheric disapproval ratings of 72 percent and 82 percent, respectively.
Your move, George.