Two links via Steve Benen at Carpetbagger:
What would be on The Note’s to-do list if it had the [White House chief of staff] position today?
1. Whatever it takes, do not let the President’s job approval rating fall into the 20s in any public survey.
Sounds reasonable. The Note has proven a reliable barometer of rightwing conventional wisdom so there’s no reason to doubt that this idea has some resonance in DC.
President Bush’s job approval rating has fallen to 29%, its lowest mark of his presidency, and down 6% in one month, according to a new Harris poll. And this was before Thursday’s revelations about NSA phone surveillance.
Of 1,003 U.S. adults surveyed in a telephone poll, 29% think Mr. Bush is doing an “excellent or pretty good” job as president, down from 35% in April and 43% in January.
From a comment by a Republican reader of this blog:
those [approval] numbers include people like me, who happen to think he’s failing us more with each passing week, if you can imagine that. But it’s not over this faux scandal. It’s more likely over illegal immigration and gas prices. This NSA thing is your little sandbox toy.
President Bush, trying to build momentum for an overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws, is considering plans to shore up the Mexican border with National Guard troops paid for by the federal government, according to senior administration officials.
One defense official said military leaders think 3,500 to 10,000 troops could be required, depending on the plan.
Two and two makes four.
As far as the plan goes, increasing personnel at the border seems like a fine idea. Building a better fence forces people to cross in less-protected areas where the crossing is more likely to kill them, while boots on the ground will do a better job of intercepting people and returning them to Mexico unharmed. On the downside the states obviously have mixed opinions about a plan which would stretch our National Guard commitments even further past the breaking point. The plan would sound less half-assed and temporary if the president asked Congress to simply expand the INS budget for more border guards. Moving around the National Guard might make for good press but it’s a necessarily temporary fix that the president can un-deploy as soon as the cameras have left and the poll situation is a bit less dire.
Of course the president is so serious about beefing up the border that he slashed 10,000 border patrol agents last year. This is pure poll-driven damage control.