The Approval of Perception

Comments   0   Date Arrow  December 16, 2003 at 4:59pm   User  by joel

Bush’s future is looking up.

The President has been catching some flak lately for his apparent personal inability to capture Saddam Hussein and/or Osama bin laden. The crowd of candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination have been sure to point out this flaw in Bush’s performance, his approval ratings have been suffering of late due in large part, we are told, to this fault, and the media, who are always up for a good failure story, happily report it all. It would seem that Bush just wasn’t giving the right commands to the right people, or was misinterpreting intelligence information, or just maybe wasn’t eating the right breakfast cereal with the secret decoder ring that would have made it plain as day where to find both men. Naturally the public was concerned about this insufficiency, and one must assume (given the criticism) that the problem would be resolved were one of the candidates running the show (granted, in some cases the problem wouldn’t exist — Saddam would still be in power).

Lucky for Bush, he found the right box of cereal Saturday morning, and Hussein is now in custody. Not much from the candidates yet save for the occasional congratulations (what else can they say?), but the public was eating it up. An NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey showed Bush’s approval ratings go up a full 6 points from Saturday to Sunday, when the arrest went public, and an incredible 15 percent more people felt that the country was now headed in the right direction.

Unbelievable. I can’t believe we, as a country, are having this discussion. Whether or not to go to war in Iraq? Sure. Whether or not the current response to the security situation, or lack thereof, is making progress? No problem. Whether or not the administration has a workable plan for getting Iraq back on its feet and pulling out? Reasonable people disagree. But whether or not Bush himself is doing a good job based on whether or not our soldiers and intelligence people can locate one individual in all of Iraq and another individual in all of the mountainous border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan*? Gimme a break, people!

I’m not saying his numbers should have been higher before or should be lower now. I just find it somewhat disturbing and oddly amusing that the public’s perception of the man some have called the most powerful in the free world has hinged so closely on the ability of a tired old man to hide in a hole in the ground.

*At best — for all we know he’s sipping margaritas in Tahiti. 😛

Tagged   Politics

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