Friday, July 01, 2005


Somerby at the Daily Howler talks about how spin is created in general and offers the specific case of Clinton's '92 victory in general. The conventional wisdom or meme promulgated by Limp-dick and the crazy right is that Bush would've beaten Clinton had Perot not been in the race. Somerby ably disproves this here.

A current meme is that Bush is a "popular" president--which implies "well-liked", most likely because he recently won re-election (sorry, "won" should be in quotes). However, new poll numbers indicate that he is in fact currently not well-liked. In fact Bill Clinton was more liked than either the current Bush or his father. To wit, this week's ABC/Washington Post poll shows that 51% of Americans disapprove of the job the president is doing while 40% "strongly disapprove" and only 27% "strongly approve." Alterman points out here that Clinton's worst "strongly disapprove" number was 33% in fall 1994 and Bush I's worst was 34% in summer 1992.

So our new meme should be that President Clinton was in fact the country's favorite president of the last three. Just remember those figures--and that a lower number is better:

Clinton's highest disapproval: 33%
Bush I's highest disapproval: 34%
Bush II's highest disapproval (so far): 40%


Now of course this is significant--after all, Clinton will have been the only Democratic president in the last 28 years (come 2008) and he was smeared the whole time he was in office and ultimately impeached (but of course, not removed). The right would therefore have us believe that he was a terrible president, a terrible person, and not at all well-liked and this is supposed to lead the public to believe that Democrats are not fit for the presidency.

Bush II is supposed to be the leader that unified the country after 9/11 and rid the world of terrorists. For those things to have happened would be nice and would certainly create an all but inarguable proposition that Republicans are the best choice for the Presidency. But those things haven't actually happened and Bush II has actually created the largest deficit ever, led us into a dubious, ruinous war, presided over the most lost jobs since Hoover, and so forth. And the public knows this deep inside and currently 40% of them "strongly" disapprove of the job he's doing.

By contrast, Clinton presided over a period of unprecedented economic growth, created a budget surplus, and wartime activity was kept to a minimum. And only 33% of the population ever "strongly" disapproved of the job he was doing. So it's fair to say that Clinton was actually the most well-liked president of the past three--it's possibly more (in italics) accurate (close italics) to say that he was the "least disliked" president of the last three, but the former construction sounds better.

This defeats the argument that Democrats are not suited for the presidency and in fact has positive implications for Hillary's expected bid in '08. I wish some pundits would take this meme and run with it...

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