The President's approval rating has fallen to 36%, its lowest ever, according to a new AP-Ipsos poll out today:
- Just 36 percent of the public approves of Bush’s job performance, his lowest-ever rating in AP-Ipsos polling. By contrast, the president’s job approval rating was 47 percent among likely voters just before Election Day 2004 and a whopping 64 percent among registered voters in October 2002.
- Only 40 percent of the public approves of Bush’s performance on foreign policy and the war on terror, another low-water mark for his presidency. That’s down 9 points from a year ago. Just before the 2002 election, 64 percent of registered voters backed Bush on terror and foreign policy.
- Just 35 percent of the public approves of Bush’s handling of Iraq, his lowest in AP-Ipsos polling.
- Just 30 percent of the public approves of the GOP-led Congress’ job performance, and Republicans seem to be shouldering the blame.
The MSNBC report includes a quote from a Republican pollster repeating the canard that it's not as bad as it seems because the Democrats don't have much of a plan. But we do have a plan. Our plan is to fix the enormous damage to our international reputation, our economy, and our political institutions that the GOP has perpetrated on us. It would appear that 64% of the public think that's plan enough.
The New York Sun is reporting that President Bush authorized leaking Plame's identity, at least implicitly, according to the vice president's former chief of staff, I. Lewis Libby:
A former White House aide under indictment for obstructing a leak probe, I. Lewis Libby, testified to a grand jury that he gave information from a closely-guarded "National Intelligence Estimate" on Iraq to a New York Times reporter in 2003 with the specific permission of President Bush, according to a new court filing from the special prosecutor in the case.
The court papers from the prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, do not suggest that Mr. Bush violated any law or rule. However, the new disclosure could be awkward for the president because it places him, for the first time, directly in a chain of events that led to a meeting where prosecutors contend the identity of a CIA employee, Valerie Plame, was provided to a reporter.
Whether or not this is true, it's interesting to watch the administration's in-fighting get to this level. One hopes the electorate remembers, and understands, in November.
First, the House last night passed a campaign-finance package last night on a strict 218-209 party-line vote:
The House approved campaign finance legislation last night that would benefit Republicans by placing strict caps on contributions to nonprofit committees that spent heavily in the last election while removing limits on political parties' spending coordinated with candidates.
Lifting party spending limits would aid Republican candidates because the GOP has consistently raised far more money than the Democratic Party. Similarly, barring "527" committees from accepting large unregulated contributions known as "soft money" would disadvantage Democrats, whose candidates received a disproportionate share of the $424 million spent by nonprofit committees in 2003-2004.
I have a dream that someday, the House of Representatives will represent me. I have another dream involving Angelina Jolie. Which dream do you suppose is more likely to come true?
In other news, the best administration we have (as Molly Ivins likes to say) is once again muzzling climate scientists who dare say there is a link between human activity and climate change. This seems to be because there is a link between human activity and climate change, a link the administration's policies are reinforcing:
Employees and contractors working for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, along with a U.S. Geological Survey scientist working at an NOAA lab, said in interviews that over the past year administration officials have chastised them for speaking on policy questions; removed references to global warming from their reports, news releases and conference Web sites; investigated news leaks; and sometimes urged them to stop speaking to the media altogether. Their accounts indicate that the ideological battle over climate-change research, which first came to light at NASA, is being fought in other federal science agencies as well.
Because if no one talks about it, it isn't really happening, even as the Republic of Kiribati disappears beneath the Pacific...
Experts say the Enron executives' testimony is extremely risky for the pair.
They will have to overcome the obvious conclusion that they knew they were robbing hundreds of employees and thousands of investors before company collapsed. Stay tuned.
Former House majority leader Tom DeLay is not seeking re-election. This is the best political news I've heard in days.
I'm going to bed as happy as I can be back in Nashua.
Krugman weighs in (sub.req.) on the immigration debate roiling the GOP:
For now, at least, the immigration issue is mainly hurting the Republican Party, which is divided between those who want to expel immigrants and those who want to exploit them. The only thing the two factions seem to have in common is mean-spiritedness.
One final quick hit for the morning: I completely forgot that yesterday was the 25th (25rd?) anniversary of President Reagan's attempted assassination. It's hard to grasp that it was that long ago.
It was a full day for the GOP yesterday. First, the National Republican Campaign Committee admitted, after receiving a $2,000 contribution from Duke Cunningham's expiring campaign fund, that they have no "standard practice for dealing with donations from convicted former lawmakers." Also yesterday, Jack Abramoff's defense team called him "a selfless patriot," with character references from 130 Republican lawmakers, some of whom called him, with total lack of irony, "generous."
They finished by killing a measure in the Senate to strengthen ethics enforcement:
On a 67 to 30 vote, the Senate defeated a bipartisan proposal to create an office of public integrity, which its backers said was designed to strengthen enforcement of Senate rules and bolster voters' trust in Congress in the aftermath of the guilty plea in January of disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
For the record, my senators (Durbin and Obama, both D-IL) voted for the bill. I'm curious why Clinton (D-NY), Feinstein (D-CA), Boxer (D-CA), and Murray (D-WA) voted against it.
I'm also surprised McCain (R-AZ) voted for it, since he's showing himself to be farther right than Cheney lately; but I suppose it's possible to be an ethical radical right-winger:
American military hero and Arizona Sen. John McCain will deliver the Commencement message at Liberty University on May 13, at 9:30 a.m., in the Liberty University Vines Center. In addition, renowned Christian conservative leader Gary Bauer will speak during the University’s baccalaureate service on May 12, at 7:00 p.m., in the main sanctuary of the Thomas Road Baptist Church.
Didn't he once call Jerry Falwell, who founded Liberty University, an "agent of intolerance?"
Finally, if you have extra time today, read Jimmy Carter's op-ed in the Washington Post:
During the past five years the United States has abandoned many of the nuclear arms control agreements negotiated since the administration of Dwight Eisenhower. This change in policies has sent uncertain signals to other countries, including North Korea and Iran, and may encourage technologically capable nations to choose the nuclear option. The proposed nuclear deal with India is just one more step in opening a Pandora's box of nuclear proliferation.
It occurs to me that President Carter is still eligible to serve another term...
Well, this is interesting. MSNBC is reporting this hour that White House Chief of Staff Andy Card has resigned, to be repleced by Budget Director Josh Bolten.
By Joyce Appleby and Gary Hart.
Joyce Appleby is professor emerita of history at UCLA and co-director of the History News Service. Gary Hart is a former U.S. senator and Wirth Chair in the Graduate School of Public Affairs at the University of Colorado, Denver.