For all its many discontents, and there are certainly many, I enjoy Washington's cadences and tempo. I don't mean Washington as a metaphor or a power center, but the particular place that I live, the way that the early evening sunlight gleams off the building fronts. If for no other reason than the slow accretion of time in the place, it feels like home. And with the exception of a few 24 hour or 36 hour stays, I hadn't been here in many weeks.
I just landed at Reagan National about an hour ago from New York and immediately raced over to my local Starbucks, which seems to emanate some cosmic force which makes TPM posts glide off my fingertips.
One point, before more posts later.
Yesterday I noted
a CBS/NYT poll, highlighting a pick-up for President Bush on the horse-race numbers and the seeming advantage he was gaining from a rebounding, if not fiery, economy.
That was, I must admit, a quick post. And looking at the results a bit more closely
, I think I got the emphasis wrong. President Bush's approval rating rests at 42%. Meanwhile, 60% say the Iraq war has not been worth the cost. In other words, that it was a mistake.
(See my Hill column
out this evening for more on that latter point.)
Those two numbers, particularly the first, are really close to the whole story. Incumbent presidents who fall short of 50% approval are in some danger. Those who aren't much over 40% are fighting for their political lives, with a poor prognosis.
The economy does continue to be an advantage for the president. But Iraq -- and the myriad of assumptions, policies and repercussions it represents -- is what this election is all about. I take it as a given that virtually no Gore voters from 2000 will pull the lever for Bush. But how many lightly-committed Bush voters from 2000 will hold him to account if they believe he gambled big and gambled unwisely with America's honor and safety, and came up short? I think more than a few. And since there were more Gore voters than Bush voters last time anyway, well ...