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Posted by on Jul 4, 2007 in Politics | 9 comments

Rasmussen Poll: Bush Almost Ties Nixon For Least Popular President

The latest poll from Rasmussen (which no one has ever accused of being a wing of the Democratic Party) indicates President George W. Bush now ranks as one of American history’s most unpopular Presidents — within just one point of tying most-unpopular President and fellow Republican Richard Nixon.

Here’s that part of the poll:

The highest unfavorable rating for any President is earned by Richard Nixon. Sixty percent (60%) of Americans have an unfavorable opinion of the only President to resign from office. Thirty-two percent (32%) have a favorable opinion of the man who famously went to China.

Close on Nixon’s heels for most unpopular is the current President, George W. Bush. Fifty-nine percent (59%) have an unfavorable opinion of him. Lyndon Johnson (42%) and Bill Clinton (41%) are the only other Presidents viewed unfavorably by at least 40% of Americans.

And the most popular?

Six American Presidents are viewed favorably by at least 80% of all Americans. Those esteemed six are led by the first President George Washington. The Father of our Country is viewed favorably by 94% of Americans. The sixteenth President, Abraham Lincoln, is the second most popular. The man who gave us the Gettysburg Address is viewed favorably by 92% (see Presidential favorable ratings).

The next four are Thomas Jefferson (89%), Teddy Roosevelt (84%), Franklin D. Roosevelt (81%), and John F. Kennedy (80%).

Five other Presidents are viewed favorably by at least 70% of Americans today—John Adams (74%), James Madison (73%), Ronald Reagan (72%), Dwight Eisenhower (72%), and Harry Truman (70%). It’s worth noting that the nation’s first four Presidents—Washington, Adams, Jefferson, and Madison—all continue to earn rave reviews in the twenty-first century.

Bush and his supporters (like most politicians and supporters of politicians who see their poll numbers nosediving south) like to compare him to President Harry Truman, who defied bad poll numbers to leave office and actually live to see historians hail him as a courageous and great President who was misunderstood and unappreciated by the populace and pundits in his time.

But, as we’ve often noted here: that’s not an accurate comparison.

And, now, via Political Wire, we see that in his last piece the late Washington Post journalist David Halberstam, writes in Vanity Fair that the comparison is hogwash:

In the twilight of his presidency, George W. Bush and his inner circle have been feeding the press with historical parallels: he is Harry Truman—unpopular, besieged, yet ultimately to be vindicated—while Iraq under Saddam was Europe held by Hitler. To a serious student of the past, that’s preposterous. Writing just before his untimely death, David Halberstam asserts that Bush’s “history,” like his war, is based on wishful thinking, arrogance, and a total disdain for the facts.

For details, read the entire article.

When you read Halberstam’s article you conclude the various controversies around Bush will continue to swirl — generated as much by his dismissive style and personality as by his policies. The sagging poll numbers will at best become slightly see-saw numbers and controversy and political polarization will likely continue to mark his administration until he leaves office in January 2009.

UPDATE: It might be best to give you two excerpts of this long article (which must be read in its entirety). He goes back and cites specific instances of history where the Truman/Bush analogy is shown to be false. For instance, he notes Truman’s controversial firing of the then-popular General MacArthur:

George W. Bush’s relationship with his military commander was precisely the opposite. He dealt with the ever so malleable General Tommy Franks, a man, Presidential Medal of Freedom or no, who is still having a difficult time explaining to his peers in the military how Iraq happened, and how he agreed to so large a military undertaking with so small a force. It was the president, not the military or the public, who wanted the Iraq war, and Bush used the extra leverage granted him by 9/11 to get it. His people skillfully manipulated the intelligence in order to make the war seem necessary, and they snookered the military on force levels and the American public on the cost of it all. The key operative in all this was clearly Vice President Cheney, supremely arrogant, the most skilled of bureaucrats, seemingly the toughest tough guy of them all, but eventually revealed as a man who knew nothing of the country he wanted to invade and what that invasion might provoke.

Later he writes:

If Bush takes his cues from anyone in the Truman era, it is not Truman but the Republican far right.

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Copyright 2007 The Moderate Voice
  • George Sorwell

    Two unusually interesting articles. Thanks for catching them!

  • It’s a bit surprising to see the Reagan myth still riding high. Memories are too short.

  • Somebody

    You must also remember what Cheney is actually trying to accomplish as the VP.

    His actions are a direct result of the congress removing a lot of power from the office of the Presidency after Nixon resigned. Cheney if you recalled worked for Ford. He was as is many politicians on both sides of the isle furious over the congress taking upon themselves the reactionary view of curtailing historically granted rights to the president because of one abuse by one president.

    His goal has always been to restore to the presidency that which he and many, many others believe were wrongly removed from the presidency. This is his goal, his motivation and his aims. The war on terror actually allowed him to do more of that then Im sure even he believed was possible.

    Cheney is not restoring to the Presidency that which other presidents did not have. He is only restoring that which was taken from the presidency by the Congress after Nixons resignation.

    That will be his legacy and that will be what history judges him on. Not how the antiwar sees him in some warped context of having more power then he should.

  • huh? I agree with cosmoetica? How does that myth survive?

    Reagan is the only president to my knowledge who admitted to treason!

    July 8,1985. President Reagan denounces Iran as part of a “confederation of terrorist states.” He states that Iran committed “outright acts of war” against the United States.

    August 1985. President Reagan sells anti-aircraft and anti-tank missiles to Iran.

    Is it treason to aid an enemy that has already committed “acts of war” against us, or isn’t it?

  • Bush is almost neck and neck with Nixon?

    Well, we must give him his due: he got there by dint of hard work and dogged persistence. You have to give him that.

  • kritter

    Somebody- Well, Cheney has succeeded in giving the administration the presidential power of the Nixon years-President Bush now shares Nixon’s abysmal poll ratings. Obviously Congress was right in grabbing some of that power back, since neither Nixon or Bush could handle the extra presidential power that they grabbed.

    Actually, I think Cheney and Bush have done things that Nixon only dreamed about.

  • Somebody,

    After six and a half years of Bush as president, you believe that the problem is that the president does not have enough power?

  • Somebody

    I’m just telling you what Bush/Cheney are attempting to do.

    The Imperial Presidency.

    Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.’s The Imperial Presidency gave the term its currency. He traces its growth from George Washington to Richard Nixon, showing how a presidency never contemplated by the founders has evolved. As a basis for their authority, presidents typically cited their role as commander-in-chief — an undefined constitutional term — and “inherited powers” other presidents had used before them.

    It is a powerful precept and it is and has been Dick Cheneys dream to reinvigorate the Presidency as he stood helplessly by while congress striped the office of the president of traditionally granted powers.

  • kritter

    This is going to sound cynical, but I read once that Bush 43 saw that his father was seen as a hero after the 1st gulf war, and told the family biographer that he wanted to be a wartime president, so that he could have a lot of political capital to spend in office.

    We’ve been at war for almost his entire presidency. Guess those commander-in-chief powers get a little heady. I think they were ready to go to war from day one. I’m not saying they caused 9/11 but they certainly were eager to go to war after. O’Neill and Tenet claim that Bush and Cheney wanted to invade Iraq from the beginning of their presidency.

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