The great revulsion
The great revulsion
'Ihave a vision — maybe just a hope — of a great revulsion: a moment in which the American people look at what is happening, realize how their good will and patriotism have been abused, and put a stop to this drive to destroy much of what is best in our country."
I wrote those words three years ago in the introduction to my column collection, "The Great Unraveling." It seemed a remote prospect at the time: Baghdad had just fallen to U.S. troops, and President Bush had a 70 percent approval rating.
Now the great revulsion has arrived. The latest Fox News poll puts Bush's approval at only 33 percent. According to the polling firm Survey USA, there are only four states in which significantly more people approve of Bush's performance than disapprove: Utah, Idaho, Wyoming and Nebraska. If we define red states as states where the public supports Bush, Red America now has a smaller population than New York City.
The proximate causes of Bush's plunge in the polls are familiar: the heck of a job he did responding to Katrina, the prescription drug debacle and, above all, the quagmire in Iraq.
But focusing too much on these proximate causes makes Bush's political fall from grace seem like an accident, or the result of specific missteps. That gets things backward. In fact, Bush's temporarily sky-high approval ratings were the aberration; the public never supported his real policy agenda.
Remember, in 2000, Bush got within hanging-chad and felon-purge distance of the White House only by pretending to be a moderate. In 2004, he ran on fear and smear, plus the pretense that victory in Iraq was just around the corner. (I have always thought that the turning point of the 2004 campaign was the September 2004 visit of the Iraqi prime minister, Ayad Allawi, a figurehead appointed by the Bush administration who rewarded his sponsors by presenting a falsely optimistic picture of the situation in Iraq.)...