It's been an unsettling early fall for the country and, consequentially, a tough one for President Bush... two major hurricanes, one of which inflicted some political damage on Bush, and the other which didn't provide him with a chance to recover... soaring energy prices are causing pain at the pump and angst about home heating costs this winter... the war in Iraq and escalating violence leading up to the October 15 constitutional referendum... scandals involving key figures in the administration and GOP leadership on Capitol Hill.
A second Supreme Court vacancy gave the President a chance to reassert control over the national political debate. But his choice of Harriet Miers split his party (not bad public positioning, we'd note, for the nominee to replace the Court's swing vote), which is also divided over government spending on hurricane relief and whether or not to offset that spending with budget cuts in popular social programs.
Not that Democrats are offering the public positive alternatives, appearing to take a "lesser of two evils" approach to winning the middle's hearts and minds. They also remain hamstrung over how to talk about the war.
So with the Miers announcement behind us and the Iraq referendum looming, we figured it was time to take the public's temperature again. The latest NBC/Wall Street Journal poll will be released tonight on Nightly News and in tomorrow's Journal.