September 13, 2004
Bush likability trumping record: It isn't really his record that matters, but the great equalizer: the Bush persona. (Dante Chinni, 9/14/04, CS Monitor)
Deficits from surpluses? Botched life-and-death decisions? CEOs have been fired for much less. So seeing as we're all good, business-savvy board members of America Inc., why does the president enjoy a lead in the polls? Because, in the end, for all the chatter about how we want to run government like a business, many of us don't want it to.
For many Americans it isn't really the Bush record or policies that matter, it's that great equalizer: the Bush persona. Even when people don't agree with the president, they often say they believe he's sincere. And in a world full of pseudo-events, pseudo-people, and even pseudo-places, that can be pretty compelling.
Many voters have made the decision that, after looking at the options, they don't mind seeing Mr. Bush's face staring back at them from the front page of the newspaper every day through 2008. He may be wrong, sometimes on serious things, but he believes he's doing the right thing and he follows his heart. And in troubled times they find that refreshing. In other words, they simply like him - or at least the image of him as reflected in the media. It's hard to know someone you have never met.
If someone had told you on the afternoon of 9-11 that during the rest of the President's first term there would not be a subsequent al Qaeda attack on U.S. soil and that the economic conditions--unemployment rate, interest rate, inflation rate, GDP growth rate--on Election Day '04 would be as good as they had been for any incumbent president since Coolidge, would you have said that he was likely to win re-election solely because of his personality?
MORE (via Robert Schwartz):
Do Newspapers Make Good News Look Bad? (EDUARDO PORTER, 9/12/04, NY Times)
In a new paper, Kevin A. Hassett and John R. Lott Jr., economists at the American Enterprise Institute, the conservative research organization in Washington, say they have discovered that economic reporters commit the same archetypal sin: slanting the news unequivocally in favor of the Democrats.Posted by Orrin Judd at September 13, 2004 8:39 PM
How can a nugget of news like the economy's addition of 308,000 new jobs in March - the biggest monthly gain in about four years - yield a report that The Associated Press labeled "Bond prices tumble on jobs data"? Bias, the researchers suspected.
The two economists combed through 389 newspapers and A.P. reports contained in the LexisNexis database from January 1991 through May 2004, during the administrations of George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. They picked out headlines about gross domestic product growth, unemployment, retail sales and orders of durable goods and classified the headlines' depiction of the economy as either positive, negative, neutral or mixed. Then they crunched some numbers.
They found that Mr. Clinton received better headlines than the two Republican presidents. Even after adjusting the data to compensate for differences in economic performance under the three presidents, the Republicans received 20 to 30 percent fewer positive headlines, on average, for the same type of news, they concluded.
For instance, they said, the unemployment rate in the Clinton administration averaged 5.2 percent, only three-tenths of a percentage point less than it has under George W. Bush. But while 44 percent of Mr. Clinton's headlines on unemployment were positive, only 23 percent of President Bush's headlines on the subject have been upbeat.