Thursday, December 08, 2005

Rice Most Popular Cabinet Member

A poll conducted between November 29 and December 1 and containing a 3% margin of error showed that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice remains the most popular government official with a 53% approval rating. (Angus Reid Consultants: Rice Remains Top-Ranked Public Servant in U.S.). The same poll gave the lowest marks to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld (35%) and Vice President Dick Cheney (32%).

Speculation is mounting that the 73-year old Rumsfeld will resign in early 2006. White House insiders claim that the Defense Secretary, whom the President considers a political liability, wanted to resign just after the President's reelection, however neither he nor the President wanted it to appear as if the resignation were forced by anti-war critics. In an interesting twist, there is speculation on Capital Hill that Senator Joe Lieberman (D-CT) will be offered the job. (San Jose Mercury News: Sources: Rumsfeld will resign in '06; rumors swirl about Lieberman).

Lieberman was offered the UN Ambassadorship prior to the appointment of Bolton, however he turned it down after considering the offer for about a week. Putting a Democrat on the cabinet in that fashion would be an interesting political move. Lieberman has been a staunch supporter of the war in Iraq from the onset, so it would not effectively change the US military posture. Lieberman is one of the more hawkish members of the US Senate and would make an interesting successor to Rumsfeld. At the same time, the appointment would remove a top Democrat from a senate seat, throwing that seat up for grabs. That prospect certainly weighed in Lieberman's decision to decline the UN post.

The most interesting person to watch right now is Condoleezza Rice, however. She remains very popular on Capital Hill and is perhaps the President's most trusted adviser. She continues to voice her lack of desire to run for President in 2008, however she has never outwardly stated that she will not run, only that she currently has no plans or desire to run. Rice would make a formidable candidate, however. Hillary versus Rice debates could air on Pay-per-View and draw record audiences. Most importantly with 2 years remaining before that election frenzy, her denial of interest effectively keeps her out of the pre-campaign political bloodbath that damages so many prospective candidates.

Finally, the President's poll numbers are up quite a bit this week. President Bush's approval rating jumped to 40% (up from 35%) and his disapproval rating dropped to 53% (down from 57%.) The reason cited for the improvement has to do with consumer confidence and perceptions of an improving economy. This matches my belief that it will be the price of gas at the pumps, not the war in Iraq, that will influence the 2006 mid-terms and ultimately the 2008 Presidential election. People argue about the war, but they vote for their pocketbooks. In any case, 2006 is shaping up to be a very entertaining year, politically.



Alan Fraser said...

Always the spin!

With a 3% margin of error, Bush's standing has hardly changed at all! He still can't touch Truman for disapproval but he's got a few years to go and I'm confident he can do it.

If you need any more proof that Iraq is lost than naming Lieberman as Secretary of Defense, it's tough to imagine what it would be. The only positive thing Lieberman can say for himself is that he will bring his own kneepads.

Kannafoot said...

Since every poll I've ever seen has at least a 3% margin of error, the numbers are a valid comparison. I should point out that both Reagan and Clinton had approval ratings below 40 early in their second term. Reagan ended up with close to a 70% approval and Clinton ended up with close to a 60% approval. We're now seeing Bush start to trend up.

Iraq is lost? While I'm sure Hussein and Zarqawi (along with most of the left here in this country) would be happy to hear that, it doesn't at all meet with reality. In fact the way we're dealing with the insurgency right now is right out of the textbook. Iraq is going extremely well. What's failing is the short attention span of the American news media that is trying desperately to convince people that there's a story to be had. We've fought two wars in 3 1/2 years and have a total casualty count of 2000. I'll take that type of loss anytime!