When a U.S. president has a 40% approval rating, critics declare open season. Last week Britain's Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott had to deny a report that he had called the Bush administration "crap" in a private meeting with fellow Labour Party members of parliament. But Harry Cohen, a Labour MP, stood by his account and went on to claim Mr. Prescott had also called Mr. Bush "just a cowboy with his Stetson on."OpinionJournal: Bush's Brain (John Fund, August 21, 2006)
Foreigners' deriding Mr. Bush isn't big news, but doubts about the president may be spreading to his domestic media allies. A National Review editorial this month concluded the president has a problem connecting with the American people on Iraq: "It is time for the Bush administration to acknowledge that its approach of assuring people that progress is being made and operating on that optimistic basis in Iraq isn't working."
Joe Scarborough, a conservative MSBNC talk-show host and former GOP congressman from Florida, is even questioning the president's mental skills. Last week he devoted a segment on his program (a segment on which I was a guest) to the question: "Is our president an idiot? . . . Is George Bush playing dumb or is he just plain dumb?" The next day he wrote on HuffingtonPost.com that while Republican presidents are routinely an unfair "target of ridicule from liberal circles" he has noticed that now "Republicans are quietly joining the left in questioning the President's intellectual prowess." He says that "former administration officials still close to the White House will tell you Mr. Bush detests dissent, embraces a narrow world view and is intellectually incurious."
Some of us Republicans arrived at this conclusion a long, long time ago. Mr. Bush has done more damage to the Republican Party and the conservative movement in general than many conservatives are yet prepared to accept and acknowledge.
And by the way... when the Wall Street Journal turns on you, and you're a Republican president, your relevance is officially over.