It was probably inevitable that at some point some Democratic presidential candidate would show up in a major poll beating President Bush in the horserace, but who knew it would be a candidate who doesn't even know who Dick Gephardt's best man was at his wedding?
Somehow, the political media seems less impressed with the fact that Matt Dowd predicted that the president's poll numbers would drop than Dan Bartlett is.
The darkest clouds of the day come nestled on A29, in the form of the work of the New York Times ' Elisabeth Bumiller, which today is both seminal and semi-over-the-top, with the president and his (wo)men cast as — not in a panic — but "on edge."
Bumiller Notes that the president who stands before the United Nations on September 23, 2003, is in a far weaker political position than the one who addressed the General Assembly on September 12, 2002, offering worried blind quotes from Administration officials concerned about their electoral fortunes as election season nears. LINK
From a White House usually Tupperware-tight when it comes to letting the air of its concerns out into the media, this is news indeed.
"People close to the president say that as the 2004 campaign approaches, the mood at the White House is not one of panic, but that Mr. Bush is worried and his top officials are on edge, particularly about the nearly three million jobs lost since Mr. Bush became president and about the so-far jobless recovery."
"At the same time, Bush advisers acknowledge a high level of anxiety among House Republicans over what they perceive as the White House's inability to communicate its policies on Iraq effectively."
What we have, then, is a failure to communicate, as someone once said (and we don't mean House Democrats … .).
Quoteth Bumiller of "one Bush adviser," "I think there is a sense of being under assault and not being able to reclaim the upper hand in a way that seemed so effortless in the past."
Dave Winston and Bill Kriston say any delusions of success have passed.
And in the similarly marquee slot of A18, the Washington Post 's Dana Milbank says this, "When President Bush addresses world leaders at the United Nations today, he will be in an unfamiliar position: on the defensive." LINK
And/but the Washington Post 's mature Jim VandeHei gets on-the-one-hand-on-the-other-hand into one compact, crystaline sentence, explaining why the Bumiller worldview doesn't necessarily matter for CREEP:
"While polls offer only a snapshot of feelings at a given moment, this one reinforced a growing belief among Democrats that Bush is beatable, especially if the economy and the situation in Iraq do not improve in the months ahead."
And, he could have added "-- but only if they find a nominee who can't be destroyed."
On the economic front, insider trouble across the board, with
1. David Cay Johnston in the New York Times saying "President Bush's tax cuts will put a trillion dollars in people's pockets over six years, but because the government is spending far more than it is taking in, the president's policies also mean that Americans face a much larger future tax bill — or equally large cuts in government spending — to balance the government's books."