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Who's in Charge? Karl Rove!

Poll Watch

Three new polls out today.

Todd S. Purdum writes in the New York Times about the latest New York Times/CBS News poll which shows Bush with "overall approval ratings for his job performance and handling of Iraq, foreign policy and the economy at or near the lowest levels of his presidency. . . .

"Taken together, the numbers suggest that a public that has long seen Mr. Bush as a determined leader, whether it agreed with him or not, has growing doubts about his capacity to deal with pressing problems. More than 6 in 10 said they were uneasy about his ability to make the right decisions about the war in Iraq, and half expressed similar unease about his ability to deal with the problems of the storm's victims."

Purdum quotes Bush counselor Dan Bartlett saying: "Obviously, as we have said, with a sharp increase in the cost of gasoline and anxiety about the war, that is obviously reflected in the polls, and then we have a sustained amount of heavy coverage of what has been described as a major failure of government at all levels, it shouldn't surprise people that that would be reflected in the poll numbers on the president, and particularly on terrorism."

Here are the results of that poll.

Mark Murray writes for NBC News: "Rocked by Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, record-high gas prices, and the continued debate over Iraq, President George W. Bush's public standing has sunk to new lows, the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll finds. . . .

"Republican pollster Bill McInturff, who conducted the survey with [Democratic pollster Peter D.] Hart, adds that he has disliked stories portraying Sept. 11 and Katrina as bookends for Bush -- that the first event boosted his presidency, while the second has done the opposite. But he says these poll numbers suggest that is indeed what's happening. 'It's hard to avoid that bookend story.' . . .

"According to the poll, Bush's job approval has plummeted to 40 percent, an all-time low for the president. That's a drop of 6 points from the NBC/Wall Street Journal poll taken in July, and it's consistent with results from other recent national surveys."

John Harwood writes in the Wall Street Journal: "Hurricane Katrina has accelerated the erosion in public support for the Iraq war as President Bush's core of supporters dwindles and economic pessimism turns Americans' attention inward.

"A new Wall Street Journal/NBC News Poll shows that cutting spending on Iraq is Americans' top choice for financing the recovery from Katrina. "

Here are those results.

And the Wall Street Journal Online reports on a new Harris Poll: "Nearly half of U.S. adults say President Bush has done a poor job in handling the Hurricane Katrina relief efforts, according to a recent Harris Interactive poll. . . .

"Americans are very much split along party lines on how Mr. Bush has handled the disaster. Nearly two-thirds, or 64%, of Republicans have a positive image of his response, compared with 94% of Democrats who feel his response has been fair or poor."

Here are those results.

No More Sheehans

The Associated Press reports: "Two weeks after Cindy Sheehan left her anti-war campsite by the road leading to President Bush's ranch, county commissioners have banned parking along 23 miles of roads in the area."

Valerie Plame Watch

Reuters reports: "Two U.S. congressional committees on Wednesday rejected Democrat-backed resolutions that would have compelled the Bush administration to turn over records relating to the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame.

"Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee and International Relations Committee, who opposed the resolution, said Congress should await the outcome of a federal investigation by special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald.

"Democrats countered that Republicans were trying to protect President George W. Bush and his top political adviser, Karl Rove."

Bathroom Break

Editor and Publisher calls it "destined to become one of the most yakked about photos of the month, if not year."

It's a keeper, alright. The only question is whether it will become iconic.

This Reuters photo by Rick Wilking captures Bush scribbling a note to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice during a session at the United Nations.

The message: "I think I may need a bathroom break? Is that possible?"

My question: Is it really possible that there are already more than 10,000 blog posts about this picture?

Alan Roden writes on "Tensions were running high as the world's most powerful men and women discussed international security and the future of the United Nations.

"At the high-pressure meeting, President George W Bush sat stern faced, surrounded by top diplomats and the largest gathering of world leaders in history.

"The US President, an outspoken critic of the UN in recent years, picked up his pencil and wrote a short note to his Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Around him, the UN delegation wondered what secrets he was passing to his most trusted advisor.

"But the most pressing matter on the President's mind was nothing to do with international security - he was desperate for the toilet.

" 'I think I may need a bathroom break. Is this possible?' he wrote. A photographer with a high-powered zoom managed to capture the moment during yesterday's UN Security Council meeting, which was held to discuss threats to international peace and security. . . .

"Politicians in Scotland today sympathised with the President's predicament, and said they too had been left short during lengthy - and often boring - meetings.

"Tory MSP Brian Monteith said: 'I've been telling people for years that George Bush is human and not some alien or automaton, but no-one would listen. I know how he feels, there are times in these big meetings when all eyes are on you and yet below your cheery smile you are bursting.'"

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