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September 08, 2005

Free-Fall and the Court
Posted by Michael Signer

A new Pew poll's out today.  The President's in trouble:

Two-in-three Americans (67 percent) believe he could have done more to speed up relief efforts, while just 28 percent think he did all he could to get them going quickly. At the same time, Bush’s overall job approval rating has slipped to 40 percent and his disapproval rating has climbed to 52 percent, among the highest for his presidency. Uncharacteristically, the president’s ratings have slipped most among his core constituents – Republicans and conservatives.

Wow.  40%.  That's low.  And it means the President is going to be on the defense, politically, not just about the hurricane, but about everything political, for a good while.  Which means Democrats may have an opportunity not only to work on productive legislation here -- they may be in a better position than they thought re. the Supreme Court.

My pet theory about all of this is that, prior to Katrina, the President had already lavishly squandered his political capital (when he said he'd spend it, no kidding, it's spent).  His approval rating was already in the low-40's, pre-hurricane.  Now, he's likely to free-fall even farther, and faster (my high school physics notwithstanding -- would he actually fall at the same rate???).

To turn from the aching pain of New Orleans to the soothingly anodyne topic of the Supreme Court, I think this means that the President is going to have a more difficult time replacing Justice O'Connor with an extreme right-winger.

Unless, of course, John Roberts is a Manchurian Candidate, or something like it, as some of our more charmingly suspicious friends seem to suspect

He does have that weirdly saccharine grin, and that perma-tan, after all...



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"Now, he's likely to free-fall even farther, and faster (my high school physics notwithstanding -- would he actually fall at the same rate???)."

...given bush's particular genius for stepping on his own... (yes, I know it's rude),
he should be the first body to surpass 10 m/s2. which might have a negative effect in another president, but the “liberal media” that has given him a pass since his first term will probably continue to do so.

i've read similar takes on the SCOTUS issue. my thought is that bush will want his presidency to be known for something "positive" and so will appoint an arch-conservative.

Gotta disagree re the "next" SCOTUS nomination: I'd say John Roberts for CJ is as close to a "lock" as any nomination is likely to get these days: I'd look for any "grilling" he might get before a full-Senate vote to be perfunctory at worst. The big fun, though, will, as you say, come with the O'Connor replacement nomination. Bush (or, more accurately, his handlers) is in a real pickle: nominate a conservative centrist, and get the frothing-wingnut "base" upset, or put up an extremist, and run the even bigger risk of having him/her rejected. The latter, IMO, is by far the bigger pitfall for the Republicans. Bush's political "capital", as you point out, is a pretty thin commodity: having a SCOTUS nomination dumped will probably not only trash what is left of Dubya's rep; but expose the GOP's hard-core, right-wing "base" for what it is: a decidedly minority philosophy in this country, wielding its (exaggerated) influence solely through polical gamesmanship and bloc voting (as loyal supporters of President Kerry have come to realize).
Of course, for the "rejection" scenario to come true, you have to posit that 6 or 7 Republican Senators will be willing to defy the Rovian Juggernaut; which is another matter altogether.

Bush is the Manchurian Candidate. Not McCain.

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