I was listening to the Bill O’Reilly radio show briefly as I was driving home today, and he mentioned a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll saying President Bush had a 31% approval rating. My first inclination was to wonder whether they polled a mixture of all adults, registered voters, or likely voters. The type of people polled does matter, since likely voters are the people who actually get out to vote for any candidate. For example, President Bush could have 100% approval or 0% approval among illegal aliens, but since they are ineligible to vote (except in Democrat-controlled areas), their approval or lack thereof doesn’t make a difference. And it is so very easy to skew the numbers one way or the other by altering the percentage of Republicans or Democrats polled.
My second response was to wonder why people should care about President Bush’s approval rating. He can’t run for another term, so his popularity ratings or lack thereof are moot. But I find that opinion polls are a boon to lazy reporters looking for easy stories. As we get closer to the November elections, we are approaching the news polling season. And just you wait — you will start seeing more and more “news” stories that are nothing more than poll results. How about an in-depth discussion of the issues? Nah, that would be work, and just reporting on a poll is so much easier.
I brought up the poll with my wife as I got home, and I started explaining that this poll doesn’t really matter since President Bush cannot run for President any more. Therefore, whether he is popular or approved doesn’t make a difference. He is the President. I explained that he isn’t the best President we’ve ever had, nor is he someone I could approve of 100%, but then I don’t agree 100% with anyone. The proper question is not whether I approve of the President’s job, but rather whether I would change my vote for President Bush if the 2004 elections were held today. And the answer to that question is a resounding NO!
The choice isn’t between President Bush and some perfect candidate, but rather between President Bush and “President Kerry.” The opportunity cost of voting for George W. Bush in 2004 was not voting for John F. Kerry, and given those two options, I would vote for President Bush all over again. TPK, wonderful woman that she is, mistakenly tried to say that the opportunity cost of voting for President Bush was not being able to vote for the other candidates, but that’s not so. The opportunity cost of buying a Big Mac meal at McDonalds is not the sum of all possible other uses for that money; the opportunity cost of that meal is the second-place choice of going to Taco Bell. Wikipedia sums it up correctly this way:
Note that opportunity cost is not the sum of the available alternatives, but rather of benefit of the best alternative of them. The opportunity cost of the city’s decision to build the hospital on its vacant land is the loss of the land for a sporting center, or the inability to use the land for a parking lot, or the money that could have been made from selling the land, or the loss of any of the various other possible uses — but not all of these in aggregate, because the land cannot be used for more than one of these purposes. [my emphasis]
Once I set her straight (and I relish these few opportunities to do so) [yeah, yeah, revel in the excitement. --TPK], she did a good job of one-up-womanship by pointing out that Doug TenNapel had already written about this subject a few days ago as he discussed Doug McIntyre’s apology for having voted for President Bush in the first place. He agrees that a President Kerry would have been a much worse U.S. President than our current one.
That’s the problem with looking at politics through Utopian eyes…there is always something to complain about but the alternate President would probably be even worse one every point you complain about. You hate Harriet Myers [sic] as a supreme court nominee. Can you imagine who John Kerry would nominate? That’s not a Bush defense, that’s reality. In the end I don’t get to choose between Bush and Reagan, I have to choose between Bush and a boob like Gore or a boob like Kerry. With those choices at hand I support Bush and thank him for saving what my country would be under two of worst presidential candidates since David Duke.
I wholeheartedly agree that President Bush was the best of the options placed before us in 2004. No, I don’t agree with him 100%, but the second-best choice would be way worse than what we have now. I recognize that I will never see a candidate I support 100%, but I’d much rather have a candidate that I support partially over one I cannot agree with at all.
Some people who are very disappointed with President Bush say that they’d rather see a complete Democrat takeover of the reins of power in 2008. They hope that the American people will be cheesed off enough at the Democrat mishandling of the issues to put real Republicans in office the next time around. But I cannot agree with that idea. Given the choice between a wimpy Republican In Name Only (RINO), or a tried-and-true Republican, I’ll take the latter in a heartbeat, but when the choice is between a wimpy Republican and a Democrat, I’m going to prefer someone from my party. Republican dominance of the House and Senate means control of committees and agendas. And that is important. The two recent appointments to the Supreme Court illustrate the need to have Republicans in control.