The media loves polls, and making glib comparisons! And if you've spent any time at all studying the way they make use of both, you'd know that their enthusiasm for numbers often outpaces their grasp of the underlying math and methodology. One type of poll that's sure to get a splashy mention these days is presidential approval polls, which track the ups and downs in the overall popularity of the sitting president. These polls are important: How else will we know when President Obama's "honeymoon is over?"
One thing that the media likes to do is compare the approval ratings of various presidents to one another. And one of the more popular ways to compare presidents is to see where the public stood at a fixed point in the presidential tenures of several different presidents. After all, how else will we know which president totally alienated the public the fastest?
That said, owing to my knowledge of recent history, there's one specific type of cross-historical presidential-approval comparison that I was certain would never be made. Because... well, because if you think about the major historical events of the past decade, there's one specific point in time where the measurement of presidential approval just... just...
Oh, let's just cut to perennial must-read David Weigel, celebrating the crossing of this particular Rubicon by Fox News Washington Managing Editor Bill Sammon, who today writes:
Obama's immediate predecessor, President George W. Bush, had an approval rating of 86 percent, or 39 points higher than Obama at this stage.
It occurs to me, of course, that the inclusion of this obfuscatory data point is entirely superfluous. Bill Sammon could write a perfectly fine, critical article on Obama's diminished approval ratings without acting as if his readers were all stupid. But what fun would that be?
New Adventures in Hackwork [The Washington Independent]