Aug 252005
Authors: Vimal Patel

Students and professors interviewed Thursday pinned President Bush's plummeting job approval ratings mostly on the war and occupation of Iraq.

"Bush and Rove let the war in Iraq be something that defines his presidency," said Scott Moore , CSU associate political science professor. "Even the relatively mild press is making the connection between Iraq and Vietnam."

According to several recent nationwide polls, the president's approval ratings are at an all-time low.

A Harris Interactive poll released Wednesday shows 40 percent of American adults have a favorable opinion of Bush's job performance, while 58 percent have a negative opinion.

Moore said the president misled the public on two fronts: nonexistent weapons of mass destruction and Iraq's connection to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

"No one says that anymore except for Dick Cheney," Moore said about the alleged connection between former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's government and the terrorist attacks. "No one believes it."

John Straayer, political science professor, said President Bush's refusal to admit he was wrong about Iraq is costing him dearly.

"I think he's in a quagmire," he said. "But you could be in a quagmire up to your knees or your waist. I think he can help himself with some candor.

"You can go a long ways in life by admitting you're wrong."

Amy Krok , president of CSU Young Democrats, also said Bush misled the public about Iraq.

"There were never weapons of mass destruction," said Krok, a junior social work major. "He wanted to invade for money reasons."

She added that there are several other genocidal countries Bush could have invaded but weren't sitting atop the oil reserves of Iraq.

However, some Republicans have a radically different assessment about U.S. involvement in Iraq.

"Great things are happening in Iraq daily," said Rachael Sunbarger , communications director for the Colorado Republican Party.

She cited the Iraqi constitution and the continued rebuilding of Iraqi infrastructure as examples.

The deadline for the Iraqi constitution, however, was delayed because of quibbling over several provisions, including the role of women in Iraqi society. It is still incomplete.

Sunbarger said Americans shouldn't put much weight on polls and that the problems the president is facing in Iraq are "just a hiccup."

"I wouldn't read too much into polls," she said. "Clearly polls are not indicators of what's going on in the country."

Despite President Bush's claim two days before the start of the Iraq war that there remained "no doubt" that Hussein possessed "some of the most lethal weapons ever devised," Sunbarger said Bush didn't mislead the public about Iraq.

She emphasized other reasons for invading.

"You got a dictator out of power," she said. "Saddam was not complying with U.N. resolutions, (and was) torturing and executing his citizens."

In addition to Iraq, the debacle created by Cindy Sheehan, who lost her son in Iraq and is now demanding the president speaks with her about why the United States is in Iraq, is hurting the president, Moore said . Her story has garnered international attention.

"It got out of the White House's control," said Bill Chaloupka , political science chair, about the Sheehan situation. "I think the White House could have managed it better."

Chaloupka said rightwing media outlets and even some mainstream ones, have attacked Sheehan unfairly.

Straayer agreed, saying administration officials are up to some of their usual dirty tactics.

"You did it to Kerry, you did it to McCain," he said, referring to political attacks against presidential candidates John McCain and John Kerry in 2000 and 2004, respectively. "Eventually people wonder if there's a distasteful attitude there."

Straayer emphasized that humility could go a long way for the president, but added Bush so far has refused to admit anything is amiss.

"He's been running a peacock presidency," Straayer said. Although, he added, one way to alleviate the public relations mess is "if the peacock ate a little crow."

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