Bush attack fatigue

John Podhoretz:

" THIS week's national polls tell a fascinating and unexpected story. The president's approval ratings should have tanked owing to the conversion of the political news into the 'Richard Clarke Show.'

"Instead, according to the Pew poll, 'A week's worth of criticism of his pre-9/11 record on terrorism has had little impact on President Bush's support among voters.'

"Gallup's results say pretty much the same thing. And they also indicate that Bush has significantly improved his standing in relation to John Kerry. Indeed, the big story in the Gallup poll is that Bush's political advertising has helped cause Kerry's positive numbers to drop precipitously over the past few weeks.

"How can this be? It seemed inevitable that last week's 9/11 hearings and the media's relentless efforts to publicize Clarke's patently dishonest charges against the administration were going to hurt Bush badly. Something interesting is going on here - or rather, two interesting things are going on.

"The first might be called 'Bush Attack Fatigue.'

"The assaults against the president have been so constant for so many months - on every subject under the sun from his handling of the economy to the war in Iraq and now to the War on Terror - that a law of diminishing returns has set in. The people willing to believe the worst of George W. Bush have already gotten the message. The people who like him have tuned out the liberal criticism. And everybody else is just sick of the negativity.


" The second factor helping the president is the nature of the 9/11 hearings themselves. There's something about congressional inquiries that just get people's hackles up. The grandstanding of committee members, the discomfort of the witnesses and the way everybody drones on for hours make it all seem a bit unseemly."


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