By DICK MORRIS
March 15, 2006 – As his ratings sink below 40
percent and he even loses his grip on the Republican base, President Bush faces
a crucial test: To succeed in his final three years in office, he has got to
work much, much harder at maintaining popularity than he is right now.
To avoid lame-duck status, he has to manifest the
same effort and maintain the same schedule in 2006, '07, and '08 that he did in
'03 and '04.
George W. Bush is not lazy; he works hard at the
job of president. But not at the job of regaining his popularity - perhaps out
of an old-school belief that popularity is for elections. But this mistakes the
nature of modern American politics - where popularity is for every day, and
those who lose it are destined to twist in the wind.
If Bush doesn't get his act together and begin to
work hard at building popular support, his self-indulgence will land him in
ever-deeper misery. His ratings will stay stagnant; then he'll lose one or both
houses of Congress - and spend his final two years in office dodging opposition
bullets, subpoenas, perhaps even impeachment. It will mean personal misery for
this good man, and leave a cloud on his legacy that will take years to erase.
All because he doesn't want to do what he must -
get up every day and go out and speak to America.
President Bill Clinton kept his job rating over 60
percent through all the days of Monica and impeachment. It had nothing to do
with a good economy; as Bush is finding out, a growing GDP doesn't guarantee
growing approval ratings. Clinton went before the nation every day with a new
speech, an executive order, a proposal, a bill signing or some other media
He didn't just recycle his old proposals. Each day,
he unearthed a new idea or initiative to keep his daily majority. He knew that
without it, with an opposition Congress, he was a goner.
His initiatives were widely varied: a rating system
to help parents anticipate TV content; school renovations; clearing out decaying
public housing projects; increased college scholarships; lower FHA closing fees;
national databases for child abusers; anti-tobacco initiatives; expansion of
family and medical leave; job creation for welfare mothers - the list was
endless. An entire White House policy apparatus was charged with churning out
At first, Press Secretary Mike McCurry objected to
the furious pace, contending that we should have only one major event each week
rather than the daily prattle of proposals. But the polling showed that each
day's initiative got the attention of a quarter to a third of voters and played
a key role in keeping Clinton's majority in line.
My guess is that Karl Rove would like to put the
president on this kind of schedule, but that the Bushes don't see the point when
he can't run for re-election. But you need a daily majority to stay in power.
You may hold the office until the end of your term (maybe), but you'll have no
power if your ratings aren't topping 50 percent. You get zapped by opportunistic
infections like Harriet Miers, Dubai ports and Cheney shootings. Molehills take
you down and you have no resistance to infection.
Bush needs to tell his political team to start
churning out events, as they did before the 2004 election, every day, every
week, and every month. His presidency's future depends upon it.
Bush cannot afford the self-indulgence of not
working as hard as Clinton did to keep his daily