Bush drops further in polls; wants all fed agencies to speechify Iraq

Monday, May 08, 2006 at 04:59 PM

In Bush's America, bad news and PR campaigns go together like Ohio and corruption, or Florida and vote suppression--you can't have one without the other.

So, of course, the news that Bush's poll ratings have hit a new low in the USA TODAY/Gallup Poll is datelined the same day that the Washington Post reports that federal agencies (all cabinet level and subcabinet groups) are being told to work the good news about Iraq into all speeches, no matter what the hell the actual subject is.

First the good news (if you live in reality):
President Bush's approval rating has slumped to 31% in a new USA TODAY/Gallup Poll, the lowest of his presidency and a warning sign for Republicans in the November elections.
The survey of 1,013 adults, taken Friday through Sunday, shows Bush's standing down by 3 percentage points in a single week. His disapproval rating also reached a record: 65%.

The polls approval ratings by respondents' self-described political leanings:
Republicans 68%
Conservatives 52%
Moderates 28%
Liberals 7%

The immediate Republican response? A form of "yeah you hate us, but think about the Democrats":

"It is a challenging political environment," acknowledges Tracey Schmitt, a spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee, "but we are confident that ultimately voters in November will recognize that a Democrat Congress would simply not be equipped to ensure either economic or national security for our nation."

The likely real response to this and all the preceding polls showing that the answer to the question "What's the difference between George Bush and a rock" is "the rock sinks slower" is the bizarre news that, according to a May 2 e-mail from USDA speechwriter Heather Vaughn:

The President has requested that all members of his cabinet and sub-cabinet incorporate message points on the Global War on Terror into speeches, including specific examples of what each agency is doing to aid the reconstruction of Iraq.

No joke. She sent the e-mail to:

about 60 undersecretaries, assistant secretaries and other political appointees, was also sent to "a few people to whom it should not have gone," said the department's communications director, Terri Teuber

And not just news of the PR campaign, mind you, but, for those USDA types unable to independently tie in agricultural topics to the war on terror and Iraq:

The e-mail provided language "being used by Secretary [Michael O.] Johanns and deputy secretary [Charles F.] Conner in all of their remarks and is being sent to you for inclusion in your speeches."

Another attachment "contains specific examples of GWOT messages within agriculture speeches. Please use these message points as often as possible and send Harry Phillips , USDA's director of speechwriting, a weekly email summarizing the event, date and location of each speech incorporating the attached language. Your responses will be included in a weekly account sent to the White House."

The attachment is available on its own Washington Post web page.

Seems like a swell PR campaign to me. I look forward to hearing things like a Dept. of Transportation minion telling a television audience that "roads in the United States are important to our economy, just as the roads in Iraq are important to that country's nascent but crucial economy." Or perhaps Michael Chertoff can tell us that there's a new plan to inspect containers at America's ports, but, thank God there's no need for such a program in Iraq now that it's no longer a safe haven for terrorists. How about a USDA official telling an audience of American farmers that they're in the same boat as Iraqi farmers when it comes to rotting fruit, but, thank God, fruit no longer rots in Iraq now that it is no longer a safe haven for terrorists?

In fact, I wonder if the requirement that terrorism and Iraq be included in all cabinet and subcabinet speeches means that Dusty Foggo, who just resigned as the #3 man at the CIA (amid rumors of his involvement in the poker/smoker/prostitute parties) had to include a terrorism/Iraq mention in his e-mail message announcing the resignation to agency staff.


This is to inform you that I am today resigning my position at the CIA. This resignation has nothing to do with the poker/smoker/prostitute parties you may have heard about. In fact, my resignation is solely to advance our nation's incredibly successful effort in combating the worldwide war on terror, and to ensure that the news from Iraq remains all good, all the time. The WWOT and the battle in Iraq are, in fact, going so well that we no longer need a number 3 man in the CIA.

Yours truly, Dusty (Go Iraq) Foggo.