How bad has it gotten for President Bush? Bad enough that in the eyes of many Americans his predecessor, President Clinton, is looking better.
Our CNN poll, conducted by Opinion Research Corporation, asked people to compare the last two Presidents.
Which President do people think did a better job on the economy? The public picked Clinton by a mile -- 63 to 26 percent. For many Americans, the 1990s were boom years. "When he was President," a woman told us, "My business did well and I made a lot of money. I kind of miss that."
Who related better to problems affecting ordinary Americans? No contest -- Clinton over Bush, 62 to 25 percent. Clinton felt your pain. Clinton also raised taxes. Bush cut taxes. Who wins on that one? Surprise! Clinton, 51 to 35 percent on taxes.
After 9/11, national security became Bush's strongest issue. And now? People think Clinton was better on national security by a nose -- 46 to 42 percent. What happened? One word: Iraq.
Now for a tough test -- character. The character issue was crucial for Bush, who campaigned in 2000 on this promise: "When I put my hand on the Bible, I will swear not only to uphold the laws of the land, I will swear to uphold the honor and dignity of the office to which I have been elected."
So which President do Americans now consider more honest and trustworthy -- the man who said, "I misled people, including even my wife," or the man who said, "If somebody did leak classified information, I'd like to know it and we'll take the appropriate action"? A close call, but slightly more people say Clinton -- 46 to 41 percent. That's right, by a narrow margin, the American public now considers Bill Clinton more honest than George W. Bush.
Could Clinton nostalgia be setting in? Many respondents said yes, citing the former president's "agenda for peace" and "more social programs for those in need." Others talked about the "Clinton nightmare," like the man who called Clinton a "womanizing, Elvis-loving, non-inhaling, truth-shading, abortion-protecting, gay-promoting, war-protesting, gun-hating baby boomer."
Clinton divided the country politically. So did Bush. Who do people think divided it more? The answer is Bush, by a big margin -- 59 to 27 percent. The public sees President Bush the same way they once saw President Clinton -- as a divider, not a uniter.
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