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Bush Blames Polls on 'Battle Fatigue'
" 'There's a sense of disquiet because of the war in Iraq,' said Bush, in an hourlong interview with the Orlando Sentinel and six other Florida newspapers. . . .
"But the president insisted his Iraq strategy will work, saying 'there's a deep desire by the Iraqi people to live in a democracy.' He also urged Americans to be patient as his administration looks for ways to help ease the pain at the pump."
William March writes in the Tampa Tribune: "Asked about his declining poll numbers, he said, 'I think it's because we're in a time of war and war is unsettling to people. . . . They respect life. They're concerned about the violence they see on a constant basis.'
"The president said the economy is strong, and isn't the cause of national concern.
" 'There's such a disquiet because of the war in Iraq, now the emergence that Iran is threatening to have a nuclear weapon,' he said. That and high gasoline prices 'have caused Americans to take a look at the future and wonder whether or not it's as good as they want it to be. I understand that.
" 'On the other hand,' he continued, 'my job is to make decisions based upon what I think is right, and in the case of Iraq it's to win this battle in the war on terror.' "
Losing the Base
Jim VandeHei and Peter Baker write in The Washington Post: "Disaffection over spending and immigration have caused conservatives to take flight from President Bush and the Republican Congress at a rapid pace in recent weeks, sending Bush's approval ratings to record lows and presenting a new threat to the GOP's 12-year reign on Capitol Hill, according to White House officials, lawmakers and new polling data. . . .
"Karl Rove, Bush's top political adviser, and GOP leaders are well aware of the problem and planning a summer offensive to win back conservatives with a mix of policy fights and warnings of how a Democratic Congress would govern. The plan includes votes on tax cuts, a constitutional amendment outlawing gay marriage, new abortion restrictions and measures to restrain government spending."
Linda Feldmann writes in the Christian Science Monitor: "Republicans are quietly worrying that Bush could even dip below the psychologically significant threshold of 30 percent in a major poll."
The Luttig Defection
The resignation of Michael Luttig from the federal appeals court bench represents another, possibly significant, defection from Bush's base.
Jerry Markon writes in The Washington Post: "J. Michael Luttig, the federal appeals court judge who was on President Bush's short list for the Supreme Court but recently clashed with the administration over a terrorism case, resigned from the bench yesterday to become senior vice president and general counsel at the Boeing Co."
As Markon explains, "in December, Luttig issued a strongly worded opinion that rebuked the administration's actions in the case of 'enemy combatant' Jose Padilla. Though Luttig had earlier written an opinion that strongly backed the president's authority to hold Padilla without charges or trial, he then refused to authorize Padilla's transfer to Justice Department custody to face criminal charges of terrorism."