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Thursday, January 23, 2003

Only 6 weeks ago the headlines said:

"White House Claims Election Is Broad Mandate"

My, how the mighty have fallen.

NY Times/CBS Poll

Nearly 50 percent of the public expressed disapproval of how Mr. Bush was handling the economy, while 41 percent expressed disapproval of his management of foreign policy, which has been the foundation of his extraordinarily high levels of support since Sept. 11. Those disapproval figures are the highest they have been since Mr. Bush took office.

Half of all respondents said Mr. Bush did not share their priorities for the country, an increase of 14 points from when the question was asked a year ago. That is a question pollsters watch closely to measure potential vulnerabilities of a candidate.


A majority of the poll's respondents — including 49 percent of Republicans — said reducing the deficit would be more likely to revive the economy than would cutting taxes, the course pressed by Mr. Bush. The White House announced last week that the budget deficit for next year would reach at least $300 billion.

Finally, 63 percent said things were going worse in the country that they were five years ago.


Although Mr. Bush has signaled that he is prepared to lead a war against Iraq without the support of the Security Council, nearly two-thirds of Americans said they wanted him to try to find a diplomatic solution to the Iraq situation, while 31 percent said the United States should resort to military force. Even so, 64 percent said they approved of the United States taking military action to oust Saddam Hussein, while 30 percent said they disapproved.


The poll found that 54 percent of respondents said affirmative action in hiring, promoting and college admissions should be continued, while 37 percent said it should be abolished. Along those lines, the respondents said they expected Mr. Bush to appoint justices to the Supreme Court who will vote to make abortion illegal, but that stance was not shared by a majority of respondents.
So far, at least, Mr. Bush does not appear to have persuaded the nation that the way to repair the economy is a new round of tax cuts, or that the cuts he has proposed would not favor the wealthy.
And 58 percent of respondents said that Mr. Bush's policies favor the rich, compared with 10 percent who said they favored the middle class. In addition, 26 percent said they treated everyone the same and 1 percent said they favored the poor. Two-thirds of respondents said big business had too much influence on this White House.

The poll pointed to some vulnerabilities in what has been Mr. Bush's strong suit, foreign policy and the war on terrorism. By 55 percent to 40 percent, Americans said the administration was reacting to events as they occurred abroad rather than having a clear foreign policy plan.


Slightly more than half of the respondents said the United States was less respected in the world today than it was two years ago, when Mr. Bush took office, while one-third said relations with Europe had worsened. And while the public said they viewed Iraq as a bigger threat to world peace than North Korea, reflecting the White House view, respondents named Al Qaeda as the biggest threat of all.

The poll also suggested some concern about what the White House has done to forestall future domestic terrorist attacks. Just over 40 percent said Mr. Bush had a clear plan for fighting terrorism, while 53 percent said he was reacting to events.

Fifty-two percent said they believed the government had done "all it could be reasonably expected to do" to protect the country from future terrorist attacks. But 45 percent said it could have done more.

Now, that's a mandate, my friends.