I may have mentioned this before but one of the things we’ve got going for us is that Rove (or ‘Karl-Baby’, as I like to call him) isn’t used to fighting a losing battle and doesn’t really know how it’s done. Unlike Clinton’s people, who were good enough not only to keep him from getting impeached by a radcon Congress out for blood but re-elected despite it, Rove/Hughes/Bartlett&Co would appear to be total novices when it comes to the necessity for facing facts people believe rather than manipulating that belief so they don’t have to. It’s a corporate-style strategy (deny and change the subject/deny and hit the day’s talking point endlessly endlessly endlessly), and they cling to it even though consultants keep trying to tell them it doesn’t work and ends up making them look even worse than they did.
They’re trying it with the Abu Ghraib issue–
“Look, obviously events and the coverage and what’s reported are going to have an effect on how people see the direction of the country,” said Matthew Dowd, the chief strategist for Bush-Cheney ’04. “In the last two months or three months, there hasn’t been a wealth of positive news. It was bound to have an effect, and we expected that.”But Mr. Dowd said that changing Mr. Bush’s tone on the campaign trail was not an option. So with some modifications, Mr. Bush is following the script he and his chief political adviser, Karl Rove, drafted as the prisoner scandal emerged: He repeats his disgust with the abuses, then turns the subject immediately back to his broader goals in the war on terrorism, merging it with the action in Iraq. He did so again on Thursday in a West Virginia school gymnasium.
–and it’s flying about as high as a lead balloon.
The polls out this week found Mr. Bush, by some measures, at the lowest point of his presidency. Only 46 percent of Americans told the Gallup Poll they approved of the way Mr. Bush was handling his job, and a majority, 51 percent, said they disapproved. Other polls had similar results. A poll by the Pew Research Center found that 44 percent of Americans approved of the president’s handling of his job and 48 percent disapproved.
I wrote a post not long ago that questioned why Kerry wasn’t getting an equivalent bounce from Junior’s nose-dive. I couldn’t find it just now, but this week I read that an independent pollster had explained it by saying that ‘people were too busy re-evaluating this president to focus on what they think of Kerry.’ There may be some truth in that.
In any case, let’s hope they stick with it. It’s working…for us.