Washington D.C./The Mainstream Media--As most of the public has been told, approval ratings for American presidents began 70-years-ago, meaning in 1938. At that time, the Democratic Franklin Delano Roosevelt was in office, and the New Deal was coming under fire, primarily from the Republicans and the rest of the business community.
Roosevelt had also attempted packing the Supreme Court, a move he was appropriately criticized for and stopped from doing. Yes, the good-old-days of accountability, it makes the heart swell, just like a Sousa march.
But it should be reflected on that if there had been polls in 1932-33, it's likely that Herbert Hoover would have won the lowest approval rating of any American president, not Harry Truman or George W. Bush. Who cares? The Republicans were the minority party for five decades. There is no better indicator than that, and this was a time when people still voted in reasonable numbers.
For five decades, the American public knew full-well that allowing a Republican majority into government would spell another economic disaster borne out of the GOP's inherent tendencies towards wanton excess and their desire for a lack of oversight in the economy (something they and the Libertarians share in their respective doctrines). Welcome to that disaster. We've collectively forgotten the lessons of the Great Depression, the down-side of losing the WWII generation to the attrition of mortality. The wheel turns.
Truman's push into the Korean peninsula during the early-1950s would never have happened without the 1949 elections that swept Republicans into Congress; representatives like, red-baiting alcoholic Joe McCarthy, segregationist Strom Thurmond, and the demagogue Richard M. Nixon whose "unpopularity" record the current president has broken, flooded into the House and the Senate. Their aim was to wreck the New Deal, which didn't work, but they scored significant victories by pushing us into unnecessary wars. Then came the repression of McCarthyism and the stagnation of the Eisenhower years. Democrats shared the blame in most all of this then, just as they do now.
Yet, without Republicans pushing the postwar Red Scare, starting with affairs like the Alger Hiss/Whittaker Chambers scandal, the Rosenbergs, and accusing anyone who didn't tow their aggressive foreign policy line as being "soft on communism," there would have been no Korean War (1950-1953), Cuban Missile Crisis, or even a Vietnam War. Imagine the social spending that would have been possible had these conflicts never occurred. We can't.
Iraq is part of an old game: divert the potential for meeting social needs with out-of-control military spending, all thanks to the same whipping-up of fear we've seen today. These same tactics still apply, which is why we're often "treated" to the GOP's flimsy-argument that they're somehow "stronger on national security," a notion that doesn't deserve serious comment or analysis.
Dramatically, the current president of the United States enjoys less popularity than Socialist President of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez. This is because Americans are understanding the the source of the majority of their current problems--the price of gasoline, rampant unemployment, an illegal war costing hundreds-of-millions every day, runaway foreclosures, no reasonably socialized medicine, etc.--originate from the extra-legal policies of the Bush administration and the GOP.
The ultimate source, however, is the economic sector, the big-big rich who both parties truly serve. The majority of the public understands this, and doesn't care for it. Action and participation in the democratic process have been the only real remedies. The public appears to finally be grasping this fact after 30+ years of being politically comatose. While it's rarely reported, the anger is most strongly directed at Congress, for her inaction.
Like any mother who allows her children to be beaten by a demented patriarch, Congress is suffering under even lower approval-ratings than the president. The answer as to the "whys" is a simple one: the public wants Congress to rein-in the president and either force a resignation, or move forwards onto full-impeachment, including that of the vice president. It's commonplace for physically-abused children to blame the other parent more than they blame the actual aggressor. Not doing anything to prevent or end abuses when one actually can constitutes aiding and abetting. Not deciding is deciding.
Irregardless of current congressional inaction in our disabled system of checks and balances, Americans are becoming much more vocal about their disapproval of politicians in-general:
There is no single explanation for why the percentage who decline to give an opinion of the president's job performance is lower now than in the past. However, one hypothesis is as follows. When Gallup polled in the Truman and Nixon years, respondents may have been more likely to say they didn't have an opinion in lieu of saying they disapproved of the president. In other words, respondents who did not approve of the president's performance--rather than flat-out saying they disapproved--may have simply told interviewers they didn't have an opinion.
Today, as the percentage of "no opinion" responses to the presidential job approval question has declined, Americans appear to be more willing to give a negative response, resulting in the situation in which Bush's disapproval rating is at a record high while his approval rating is not at a record low. ("Bush's 69% Job Disapproval Rating Highest in Gallup History," Gallup, 04.22.2008)
The president is also less popular than the Saudi regime--amazing considering the fact that the American public is generally aware that 17 of the 19 9/11 hijackers were Saudi nationals. The reality is that people are being affected directly by the rapidly rising costs, a result of the high price of oil.
Most stunning is the fact that a majority of Americans look to Communist Cuba as being more reasonable and supportable than the current administration occupying the White House. This wholly contradicts the mainstream media's portrayal of what Americans think, but only a fool would accept their picture. The majority of Americans are weighing how other systems provide for their citizens, and their attitudes overall are far-left. Most importantly for the present: a whopping 69% now feel that we were all lied to to get us into a war in Iraq. Better late than never. War crimes have no statute of limitations. Not even a presidential pardon can make that go away, never.