What Is Dogging the President?

To watch "The Talking Points Memo" in the Screening Room click here.

A new FOX News poll (search) is out today and as predicted, the president's job approval rating (search) is down. 59 percent of Americans say he's doing a good job. 32 percent believe he's not. That's a 12-point loss since April.

Iraq is hurting the president. Almost all of his erosion is because of the continuing chaos there. Mr. Bush's numbers have actually improved on the economy, up 2 percent since May.

Another key question for Mr. Bush, would you re-elect him in 2004? 42 percent say yes. 31 percent say no. And a whopping 27 percent are undecided. That represents significant erosion for the president.

Only 29 percent of Americans believe Mr. Bush was dishonest about Iraqi intelligence before the war. So that's not his big problem. The continuing guerilla war in Iraq is.

Right now, no Democratic candidate is a threat to unseat Mr. Bush, although some believe Hillary Clinton is thinking about entering the fray.

Finally, the poll says just 32 percent of Americans favor gay marriage. It's clear to Talking Points that President Bush has some work to do if he wants to stop his popularity slide. Americans still have emotion invested in him. They like him generally because of Sept. 11. But the president needs to start talking to the folks.

His strategy of avoiding press conferences and rarely giving interviews is hurting him because the issues are being defined by his enemies. The president needs to explain himself directly to the people, who do want to hear what he has to say.

Finally, presidential poll numbers go up and down, as you know, but there are two keys in this latest poll. Stabilize Iraq and grow the economy. That's it. If Mr. Bush does that and there are no scandals, he wins in 2004. If not, it'll be another nail biter.

And that's The Memo.

The Most Ridiculous Item of the Day

Even though he's on a diet, as we mentioned, Bill Clinton has compiled a cookbook. He asked some celebrity friends like Bono, Whoopi Goldberg, and Barbra Streisand to submit recipes. Of course, they all did.

And the money Clinton makes will go to his library foundation, the same foundation that Mark Rich's ex-wife Denise donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to and then took the Fifth Amendment when asked about the Mark Rich pardon. Am I going off on a tangent here?

Anyway, the whole thing is ridiculous.