A few weeks ago, various pollsters noted President Bush enjoyed a modern-day, record-high approval rating by the public. No recent president had enjoyed such a high public rating this long into his presidency.
Within a few weeks, these same pollsters were quick to note there had been a drastic slide in his popularity or approval rating, and immediately there were dire predictions about what was likely to happen to Republican candidates in next week's House and Senate elections around the country.
Bush was the same person three or four weeks ago as he is today . . . a decent, wholesome individual, perhaps the best-trained person to serve as president this country has had in many years.
And yet, because of the country's budget situation, which he inherited from past presidents and past Congresses, he forced Congress to come up with a plan to reduce spending, raise revenues and bring our nation's fiscal account more in balance.
During his campaign, he pledged "no new taxes," and time and again he said, "read my lips no new taxes." There is no reason not to believe Bush was sincere when he made this pledge. And there is every reason to believe he tried every possible method for as long as he could to avoid giving any suggestion he would approve higher taxes.
However, when it became apparent some higher taxes were a must if he was to bring about any reasonable plan to narrow the nation's budget deficit, he agreed to work with Congress on such a plan.
The public should realize, however, that it is members of Congress the Jim Slatterys, the Jan Meyerses, the Bob Doles, the Nancy Kassebaums, the Dan Glickmans, Pat Robertses and Bob Whittakers who can and do appropriate and spend every tax dollar, not the president. And the public should realize that more taxes are being collected today than at any time in this nation's history. Also, the public should realize the current Congress and past Congresses, have developed programs to spend more taxpayers' dollars than at any time in this nation's history.
One more thing to remember: Democrats have controlled the House and Senate for years. In fact, they have a strangle hold on Congress and can pressure, threaten or use other tactics to get just about whatever they want.
This being the case, it is puzzling to understand why Bush's popularity seems to be the center of attention when far more attention should be given to the spending habits of members of Congress. If more taxes are being raised than at any time in this nation's history and if there is a need to reduce the fiscal deficit, doesn't it make sense to demand that Congress find ways to further reduce federal spending?
The "popularity" or "approval rating" of officeholders such as Slattery should be of more concern to local voters, particularly next Tuesday, than focusing so much attention on what the public thinks of the president.
It is the Jim Slatterys who should be worrying about how the public perceives their performance in Washington. Too often, congressmen such as Slattery talk one way "at home" with their constituents, but vote far differently when they get back to Washington.
Bush has done a good job as president, under very trying circumstances. The same cannot be said for many in the Democratic-controlled House and Senate.