“I’m so bored. I hate my life.” - Britney Spears

Das Langweilige ist interessant geworden, weil das Interessante angefangen hat langweilig zu werden. – Thomas Mann

"Never for money/always for love" - The Talking Heads

Friday, May 12, 2006

d. 2001

All the liberal blogs, lately, revel in the President’s falling poll numbers. LI doesn’t. LI finds those numbers extremely depressing. They map the incredible political impotence of any opposition to Bushist politics, rather than the reverse. The extension of tax giveaways to the wealthy today are the latest sign of the absolute victory of Bush’s values. Another, more familiar sign, one that every American can warm himself with: the murder of seven American soldiers in Iraq, yesterday, in the bloody farce of the Iraq vanity project. Then there is the dispossession of most of New Orleans, the lack of any attempt to deal with global warming. Yada yada yada. That depressed personal approval rating of the man whose policies are opposed by an utter vacuum shows how utterly Bushist culture has triumphed, not the opposite. Whenever I read a progressive site touting, say, Bush’s popularity being down to 31 percent, it seems to me I’m seeing a corpse crawl out of his grave to point proudly at his death date.


Anonymous said...

Buck up, mate. You wouldn't be cheered if the trend were in the opposite direction, would you? So, if it's irrelevant, it's irrelevant. Depressing though? C'mon.

Heck, some even feel that these poll numbers ought to be heartening because they come, as you note, in a virtual vacuum of opposition. The thinking goes, "the public recognizes Bush is lost, even thought there's no opposition to him -- they're a wiser public than they get credit for." I think there's a little something to that myself.

roger said...

Anonymous, your point about the public is true and important. I have my own story about the cause of the Bush backlash, which would attribute it partly at least to the minority that has gone banging on about the terribleness of the war for three years. A minority that could care less about polls.

And that gets to why these polls, in particular, madden me. I think that it is paralyzing to take polls as a confirmation of anything in particular, but rather to take them as simply helping set the terms of the ongoing political battle. In this case, though, across the political landscape, I see no group or figure in the news that is saying, withdraw now, cut the military budget, expand hugely the budget to make the economy greener, repair the health sector by making health a thing like education or roads, etc., etc. Instead, I see the politics of mass triviality, while we drift along making things worse every day.

Meanwhile, the terms seem to be set all on one side. So I do find the poll figures, at the very least, bittersweet. To make a (perhaps unfair) comparison, the way the progressive blogs love to roll out these Bush is unpopular polls reminds me of the way the rightwing blogs love to find those nuggets showing the "good news" from Iraq. The blind loop of self-confirmation is tiring.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Roger. I think now we are in nearly full agreement (yes, call the headline writers!).

I too am depressed by the evidence you cite ("no group or figure in the news that is saying...") -- evidence of a lack of opposition. I too am depressed by the use of poll statistics for what can charitably be called 'cheerleading.'

These things are enervating, there is no doubt.

I do see Bush's unpopularity however, as cliched as it sounds, as pointing toward opportunity.

While I despair of any liklihood that opportunity will lead to the actions we'd both like to see ("...withdraw now, cut the military budget, expand hugely the budget to make the economy greener, repair the health sector by making health a thing like education or roads, etc., etc"), rather than merely greasing the way for the Democrats, I reserve a guarded optimism.

Anonymous said...

I'm with you, roger. I see no indication that it's this administration's policies that the American public is rejecting - see today's poll showing that a solid majority of them are just fine with our secret police forces, or harken back to America's indifference to the Abu Ghraib pictures. Far as I can tell, the American public have just finally realized what a clown Bush is. They'll just vote in a slightly less ridiculous version - Hillary or McCain, Kang or Kodos.

- msw

Le Colonel Chabert said...

most Americans consider the Bush regime not only condemnable but utterly illegitimate:


roger said...

The larger point here, which I obviously didn't make very clear, is that these poll numbers are being used to hem in radical opposition to Bush's policies, not give it space. On Tiny Revolution, Jonathan Schwartz has been tracking Bush's numbers in tandem with Nixon's in 1973. Think about that: in 1973, there was a feminist movement, a peace movement, the beginnings of gay activism, discussion about adding truly meaningful programs to Great Society programs. There were real calls for investigating abuses of the constitution, there were real calls for controlling the executive abuse of power. The falling poll numbers did not just reflect disgust with Nixon, but a counter-force that was continually pressing on Nixonian politics. And that force was outside the party system -- it wasn't a Democrat policy wonk who came up with the protests after Stonewall.

But... hell, I won't inject my own parochial beliefs about party politics vs. movements into this --I can imagine other stories about cause and effect here. Whatever the reason, I still see a vacuum. And, historically, when there is a vacuum in opposition to a failing rightwing government, politics can very easily shift further to the right. It happened, for instance, after Peron in Argentina.

Brian Miller said...

buck up, roger., If there is a Democratic victory, there will be "plenty of career" available in Iraq, as all of the leading Democratic candidates still mumble about "Gittin' 'er done."

Vermin Direct, LLC said...

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