Bush in deep trouble (finally)

The Canadian press reported tonight that public pressure is growing for Bush to curtail Iraq war after Katrina disaster.While Bush claims he can still fight war in Iraq and pay the bill for Katrina, a new Gallup poll Wednesday reported a record high in the percentage of Americans favouring a reduction of U.S. troops in Iraq, with 63 per cent saying some or all of them should come home. Public approval of Bush's handling of Iraq tumbled eight points in just the last week, to 32 per cent.And 54 per cent of Americans chose less spending on Iraq over other means of paying for Katrina, including increasing the deficit, cutting domestic programs or raising taxes. It looks like the chickens may come home to roost for Georgie.Meanwhile fissures are emerging in the Republican Party on how to pay for Katrina (see next post). Stay tuned.

According to CP:

WASHINGTON (CP) - President George W. Bush says he can wage war in Iraq and still pay most of the huge bill for rebuilding the hurricane-lashed Gulf Coast. Most Americans don't agree with him. And for the first time, Bush is facing a serious revolt in his own party over how to pay for hurricane relief.

Republicans already edgy about the estimated $200-billion US price tag to clean up after Katrina were bracing for more damage by week's end as hurricane Rita hurtled toward Texas and the battered Louisiana coast.

For now, they're split on whether to cut domestic programs or add billions more to the whopping $333-billion U.S. deficit, options that Americans clearly aren't favouring in opinion polls.

And with congressional elections looming next year, analysts say legislators are increasingly feeling the heat from voters who tell pollsters the Iraq war was a mistake and Bush is spending too much there.

If the tide of public opinion doesn't budge, Bush may not be able to withstand an abrupt change in priorities, said Charles Cushman, a politics professor at George Washington University.

"His supporters in Congress could abandon him if he's not going to be able to help them get re-elected," he said.

"There will be tremendous pressure to declare victory no matter what's going on in Iraq and go home."

An Iraq backlash from Katrina was evident in other recent polls, including an Associated Press-Ipsos survey this week in which two-thirds said Bush was spending too much on the war.

As well, a recent New York Times survey suggested more than eight in 10 Americans are concerned about the $5 billion US spent each month in Iraq, with support for the war falling to an all-time low.

Still, only 26 per cent said they expected U.S. troops to be withdrawn within two years.

"Technically, it is possible for the administration to continue to wage war in Iraq and launch huge domestic efforts," said Will Dobson, managing editor of Foreign Policy magazine.

"The question is whether either can be done to the expectations of the public," he said. "And now Bush is in complete damage control mode."

The president's record low approval ratings after the bungled response to Katrina didn't improve following a nationally televised speech last week where he promised to fund one of the world's largest reconstruction efforts.

In a recent editorial, Richard Haas, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, said the aftermath of Katrina will "inevitably" increase political pressure on Bush to reduce his involvement in Iraq and spend more to rebuild or improve the country's capacity to deal with future disasters.

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