Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Washington's worldwide woes

George Bush's approval rating is at an all-time low, and this is reflected in declining US power across the globe.

By Simon Tisdall
The Guardian

"American accusations that European countries have ganged up against the Bush administration in the Paul Wolfowitz row hide a deeper worry: that the rapidly declining power at home of the most unpopular, least respected president since Richard Nixon is encouraging multiple challenges to US authority and interests around the world.

Washington's insecurity is rooted in the collapse in George Bush's domestic support and an apparent accompanying failure of national confidence. The president's approval rating hit a new low of 28% earlier this month, according to a Newsweek poll. His aggregate figures have been stuck at 35% or less since last autumn - far below the norm for an incumbent half way through a second term.

The "badness of King George", as Mr Bush's fall from imperial grace has been dubbed, is creating a power vacuum around the White House. The earliest ever start to the election campaign to replace him is now being matched, according to many commentators, by the longest ever "lame duck" presidency.

"The country doesn't believe George Bush, it doesn't trust him, and with 19 months to go it's only going to get worse," said Ed Rollins, a famed Republican strategist, speaking to US columnist Albert Hunt. "There is nothing the president can do to get his numbers back up."

The deepening gloom around Mr Bush is largely attributed to the Iraq quagmire, though domestic policy failures and continuing security worries also play a part. And the depression may be catching. According to an AP-Ipsos poll this week, 71% of Americans believe their country is "on the wrong track". Only 35% believe the Democrat-controlled Congress, elected last November, is doing a good job (mostly because it has failed so far to force a change of course on Iraq)......

Now the majority takes a more chastened, pragmatic view, with 58% agreeing that: "it is a dangerous illusion to believe America is superior to other nations; we should not be attempting to reshape other nations in light of our values"......"

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