The results of the latest NBC/Wall Street Journal poll measuring President George W. Bush’s approval rating were released today – and the numbers aren’t good for Bush 43. Confidence in the commander in chief is at its lowest point in the six years he’s held office. Only 34% of those polled think the president is doing a good job, and only 28% think the U.S. is headed in the right direction.
As BusinessWeek Capitol Hill correspondent Eamon Javers noted on “Power Lunch” today, President Bush seems to be out of political capital. Concerns like the Iraq war and the price of gas at the pump are weighing on the minds of Americans. The next two years will be more about fending off Democratic legislation, Javers says, than furthering the administration’s own policies.
CNBC’s John Harwood says there are consequences beyond public disapproval. The drain from Iraq leaves the president in less of a position to fight the Democrats on issues like taxing oil companies, forcing pharmaceutical companies to set reasonable prices for drugs and whether or not to increase the minimum wage. President Bush also would be less able to quiet the growing cry for protectionism against China.
Also, Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., saw Sen. Timothy Johnson, D-S.D., in the hospital after Johnson’s brain surgery to correct a congenital malformation. Johnson suffered the attack last night. Harwood says it’s way too early to tell if there’s any permanent impairment of brain function.
If Johnson is unable to continue serving, South Dakota’s Republican governor, Mike Rounds, will have the right to appoint a stand-in for the rest of the term, which ends in 2009. That would tilt the Democrats' slight edge in power back to the Republicans. It would be a 50-50 tie in the Senate, with Vice President Dick Cheney holding the tie-breaking vote. That puts the Republicans in control of all Senate committees – and back in power.