President Trump departs the White House in Washington on Sept. 2 for the Trump National Golf Course. (Erin Scott/Reuters)
Opinion writer

Investor’s Business Daily reports, “President Donald Trump’s job approval rating fell to 39% in the September IBD/TIPP Poll, matching February’s reading for the lowest in a year. The erosion in the Trump approval rating comes as Americans registered greater disapproval of the escalating China trade war.”

Even before we see signs of a trade-war-induced recession, Trump gets lower marks on the economy, and his trade policy gets panned. “Trump’s net approval rating on his handling of the economy shrank to +7 points (46% approve; 39% disapprove). That’s down from +10 points in August (46%-36%) and +15 points in July (48%-33%),” the pollsters found. “Over the same time, views of Trump’s handling of trade with China have gone from neutral to increasingly negative. Trump’s net approval went from flat in July (42%-42%) to -4 points in August (40% approval; 44% disapproval) to -10 points in September (39%-49%).”

Meanwhile, in the same poll, former vice president Joe Biden leads Trump in a general election match-up 54 percent to 42 percent. According to RealClearPolitics, Biden’s average lead in the polls is more than nine points.

Voters are right to be skittish about the economy. CNBC reports, “The ISM U.S. manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index fell to 49.1% in August, the lowest reading in more than three years. Any reading below 50% signals a contraction.” As one might expect, “The report raised fears of a recession and hit the stock market. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost more than 300 points, extending losses following the morning release from ISM.”

For all his bluster and insults, Trump has taken on a somewhat feeble quality. He makes the bare-minimum statement on the latest gun massacre, ducks a World War II commemoration in Poland on the grounds that he has to monitor the hurricane (but then plays golf and misinforms the public about the hurricane’s path) and eggs Vice President Pence to stay at the Trump International Golf Links and Hotel in Ireland, raising once more the grotesque self-dealing and corruption that permeates this administration. (Recall that he’s trying to get the Group of Seven to meet at his Doral golf club next year, thereby presenting the federal courts that are considering emoluments cases one more example of the president’s willingness to use the power of the presidency to line his own pockets.)

As Trump is falling, Democrats remain oddly quiet, perhaps on the theory that one shouldn’t interfere with one’s political opponent when he’s in the midst of blowing himself up. However, at next week’s Democratic presidential primary debate, it would behoove candidates to use the free prime-time TV slot to pound away at the diminished president. Trump has taken credit for just about everything, so it is time to start holding him accountable for just about everything — the listing economy (thanks to Trump’s suffocating trade war), an epidemic of mass shootings (thanks to Trump’s refusal to cross the National Rifle Association), a culture of corruption (thanks to arguably the most corrupt president in history, who sets the pattern for everyone else), strained relations with allies (thanks to Trump’s picking fights with them as he carries water for Russian President Vladimir Putin) and ever-more-extreme weather (thanks to climate change deniers, led by Trump).

Read more:

Paul Waldman: Open your wallet. Trump demands tribute.

Greg Sargent: Trump’s favorite rage-attack on Democrats is facing a big test

Catherine Rampell: Trump’s comments about ‘bad management’ are right, but not in the way he thinks

Alexandra Petri: Why wouldn’t Mike Pence stay at Doonbeg?

Dana Milbank: Trump’s Dorian response: Par for the course