A new Gallup poll says that of all the incumbent presidents re-elected since 1952, Mr. Bush has the lowest poll numbers (search). And indeed right now, his favorability rating stands at about 50 percent, which is not strong.
At this point in his re-election year, President Reagan's rating was 54 percent, Bill Clinton's 52 percent. Even Republican strategists concede that Mr. Bush is having trouble convincing the public that his vision will improve the country. And that's the crux of the matter.
Talking Points believes that one situation really illustrates Mr. Bush's dilemma. Gas prices have risen dramatically in the past few weeks. Some Americans are now paying more than $2 a gallon. Yet, the White House has said nothing. OPEC intends to cut oil production even further on April 1. That'll lead to even higher prices. Yet, the president remains silent.
Higher gas prices means direct pain for millions of Americans. And all of us deserve to know from the president why gasoline is so expensive and what the president intends to do about it. This is a bread and butter issue. People vote their wallets.
There is some good news for President Bush. Senator Kerry has yet to define himself. And many Independent voters are taking a wait and see attitude. So Mr. Bush can certainly come back strong if things break his way or if Kerry makes some mistakes.
But President Bush is now perceived as being a bit remote, just as his father was. The folks want accessibility. That's why Bill Clinton was so successful. So President Bush must begin to hold town meetings, begin to do some interviews, and get a chart like Ross Perot, break things down so even I can understand them.
The president has done a lot of good things, but there's continuing chaos in Iraq, worries about the economy, and those rising gas prices.
If they hate $2.50 a gallon this summer, it will be hotter than usual in Crawford and under the collars of the electorate.
And that's the Memo.
The Most Ridiculous Item of the Day
You know, old guys like me go to bed early, so we often miss some good action. Wednesday night on the David Letterman program, whacked-out singer Courtney Love (search) took off her shirt to the delight of old Dave.
Now Dave's an old guy, too, who, apparently, wasn't asleep during -- at least during this segment.
Ms. Love, as you know, is a rather flamboyant person and is not adverse to publicity to sell her new dopey CD. Ridiculous? Well, Letterman didn't seem to think so.