George W. Bush (remember him? He's the guy who accompanied Condi Rice to the pope's funeral) has the lowest approval ratings of any president ever at this point in his second term.
Put it another way: Bush is the earliest lame duck ever spotted. Or perhaps the only one ever to be re-elected.
From my perspective, that is, from listening to my Red State neighbors and contrasting that with the bleating of polls and the blathering of pundits, Bush has never been popular. His first election, if we may now be so gracious or resigned to call it that, was the result of an astute counter-marketing campaign cleverly disguised as the evening news. His "popularity", if one could believe in it (uh, 17% negatives after that election?) was clearly on the wane that first summer, and he faced actually coming out and standing for something beyond tax giveaways when Congress returned. It was becoming increasingly difficult to pretend the man had a functioning intellect, and it was about to be tested in the affirmative rather than the specious claim it was an act of reverse psychology aimed at getting liberals to misunderestimate him.
We all know what happened next. When Bush emerged from his hidey-hole after 9/11 and managed to speak through a bullhorn without actually electrocuting himself he was hailed as the straight-shootin' sheriff and the Christian Talisman Against Falling Objects. Panic does that to people. But remind me never to get in a foxhole with any of them if I can help it. It was evident that a sort of Hollywood-inspired hyperreality had set in that nothing was going to shake.
It was evident also that this amounted to a free pass to overreach, something which is never a good idea but particularly dangerous with a gang that had proclaimed a mandate after losing the election. The United States decided it could treat the rest of the world the way it has been treating the rest of the Americas for a century. Even liberal commentators fell under the sway (I still have that list of names, boys). And yet a majority of Americans felt this was a matter for the United Nations. Unfortunately, that particular majority had no representation in Congress.
Some small portion of the obvious has become obvious to many on the right in recent months. It's difficult to credit someone who has just now realized he'll be on the religious radicals' hit list along with the neo-Bolshevist Christmas haters, and this is not an over-reaction to a poll which happens to say something I agree with. The real answer is that what's obvious is obvious regardless of what polls say. In a time of all-out panic George W. Bush was granted moral and leadership qualities he does not possess, and as it has become increasingly difficult to duck those responsibilities or paper them over with brush-clearin' photo-ops, we find ourselves adrift and leaderless. The most we can hope for at this point is a belated recognition of what leadership means.