Thursday, January 15, 2009

"Departing Bush at 34 percent in final Gallup approval poll"

President George W. Bush's approval rating in the final USA Today/Gallup performance poll of his presidency is up "a shade" at 34 percent, the polling firm reports.

Bush "joins Jimmy Carter and Harry Truman as presidents since the end of World War II whose final job approval ratings in office registered in the low 30s," says Gallup. Bush's disapproval rating in the same final survey reached 61 percent.

At noon on January 20, Bush hands successor Barack Obama two unfinished wars and a worldwide economic meltdown and leaves historians the job of judging his tumultuous eight-year presidency.

The 43rd US president also bequeaths the controversial tactics of the global "war on terror" that he credits for protecting the United States after the September 11, 2001 attack -- the worst strike ever on US soil.

The vastly unpopular Bush, 62, will also leave behind the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, a Middle East still in flames, uneasy relations with Russia, and, his supporters say, vastly improved ties with Brazil, China, and India.

Aides point to his overhaul of US aid overseas, including an unprecedented increase in assistance to help Africa battle deadly diseases like malaria and HIV/AIDS, and cite efforts to spread democracy worldwide among his successes.

His high points included a defiant vow in the still-smoldering ruins of the World Trade Center to punish Osama bin Laden's Al-Qaeda terrorists at a time when he enjoyed staggeringly high popularity with the US public.

His low points included the failure of the government response to killer Hurricane Katrina, which drowned New Orleans and helped send his job approval to lows not seen in at least a generation.

On the economic front, Bush boasts of more than 50 months of uninterrupted growth and has rejected any responsibility for a US housing crisis that has contaminated the financial sector worldwide over the past year.

In 2008, the US economy shed more jobs than at any time since 1945.

Still, Bush said with one week before Obama takes over, "I'm better than fine. I am proud of the accomplishments of this administration.