Dirge for a ‘Surge’
When President George W. Bush declared earlier this month that the only way to quell sectarian violence in Iraq was to send more than 20,000 additional American troops, he probably knew the move would be unpopular. Indeed, the latest NEWSWEEK poll finds that Bush’s call for a “surge” in troops is opposed by two-thirds (68 percent) of Americans and supported by only a quarter (26 percent). Almost half of all respondents (46 percent) want to see American troops pulled out “as soon as possible.”And so much for that strong honest leader.
Bush’s Iraq plan isn’t doing anything for his personal approval rating either; it’s again stuck at its lowest point in the history of the poll (31 percent). Meanwhile, the new Democratic-controlled Congress is getting relatively high marks. And 55 percent actually trust Congressional Dems on U.S. policy in Iraq, far more than the 32 percent who trust their commander in chief.
There is still more bad news for the president in the poll: Sixty-two percent of Americans are dissatisfied with the way things are going in the country. For the first time, more than half of the respondents (53 percent) disapprove of his approach to deterring terrorism. More than half of the public thinks he is not “honest and ethical” (54 percent) and lacks “strong leadership qualities” (57 percent). Just before the last election, 55 percent said Bush was honest and 63 percent saw him as a strong leader.With 21 Senate seats on the line in 2008 the Republicans have to be looking at these numbers with a sense of gloom. Expect to see the Republicans turn on Bush in mass by May. Bush may yet turn out to be the uniter that he said he would be.