For the crime of noting that the president’s speech didn’t help his poll numbers, I’m getting battered by e-mailers who suggest, among other things, that I am somehow unmanly because I’m not “supporting” the president enough. I never thought a day would come when I — the author of a book entitled Bush Country: How Dubya Became the First Great Leader of the 21st Century While Driving Liberals Insane — would be accused of being a fair-weather supporter of GWB. Let me just try to explain something to my e-mailers. The president gave his speech Thursday night in an effort to reverse the decline in his political fortunes. That’s why presidents give speeches in prime time — both to inform the nation and to try to seize the upper hand in the political struggle. It appears his effort was unsuccessful, in part (I think) because he sounded like a Big Spender and alienated more Republicans without winning over more Democrats.
It may be that the best thing for him to do is just ignore these poll numbers. But they’re there, and they’re going to have an impact — and the danger is that the impact they’re going to have will be on public support for the mission in Iraq, where we cannot afford to fail. Bush supporters don’t help him or themselves any by pretending his troubles are all due to the MSM. He has, for the moment, lost the country’s confidence.