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Embattled Bush now faces trouble on many fronts
(Rupert Cornwell, Independent, 28 January 2003)
George W Bush is in trouble. This is not wishful thinking by Europeans who cannot abide a man they see as a trigger-happy, unilateralist half-wit. . . . Few ruling politicians would admit to allowing polls to influence their pursuit of the national good. But this White House � the most efficient and secretive in recent memory � pays as much attention to them as its predecessors. The indications are not good. . . . Mr Bush's approval ratings have slipped to the mid-50s � respectable enough for a President in normal times halfway through his term. But they have dipped 10 per cent since the mid-terms, bringing his popularity back to levels before the 2001 terrorist attacks. . . . A majority of Americans disapprove of his handling of the US economy, the bread and butter issue that over the longer term will eclipse even Iraq as a priority for voters. More than 1.5 million jobs have been lost on this Bush's watch. . . . Seven out of 10 [in the US] believe that United Nations inspectors should be given months or more to complete their work. The country, according to one finding yesterday, is split down the middle when asked whether it trusts the President or the UN to make the right decisions on Iraq. Though 60 per cent broadly support military action against Iraq, Newsweek found, that backing plummets if the US were to act alone, or with the backing of just "one or two" allies, for example Britain. . . . Mr Bush's problem is that he is trying to achieve two goals which are irreconcilable: to unite a sceptical country behind him in launching an unprovoked war, and pursue nakedly partisan domestic policies � not just over the economy. Mr Bush wants to further privatise health care, one day even social security. He seems oblivious to the collapse of US public finances � from a federal surplus of $250bn two years ago to a similar deficit this year. . . . If Saddam Hussein is quickly and comprehensively defeated, and US casualties are few, Mr Bush will bask in a victor's acclaim. But that is scant comfort. It happened 12 years ago when his father assembled a far wider coalition to drive Iraq from Kuwait. Barely a year later Bush Senior had lost the presidency.

posted by Lorenzo 12:27 PM

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