CONGRESSIONAL APPROVAL DOWN….The Washington Post reports that approval ratings for Congress are down. This is hardly a surprise, since approval ratings are almost always high at the beginning of a new Congress or a new presidency (a majority voted for the new folks, after all), and they inevitably decline a bit as reality sets in and the revolution doesn’t come. However, the Post seems to think there’s more to it:

Just 39 percent said they approve of the job Congress is doing, down from 44 percent in April, when the new Congress was about 100 days into its term. More significant, approval of congressional Democrats dropped 10 percentage points over that same period, from 54 percent to 44 percent.

Much of that drop was fueled by lower approval ratings of the Democrats in Congress among strong opponents of the war, independents and liberal Democrats.

….In April, the public, by a 25-point margin, trusted the Democrats over Bush to handle the situation in Iraq. In this poll, Democrats maintained an advantage, but by 16 points.

This is water under the bridge at this point, but I think congressional Dems blew it by caving in to Bush on the war supplemental so quickly. It may well be that they couldn’t have held out forever, but I think there was a big chunk of the public that at least wanted to see them fight harder. Unfortunately, a substantial block of the party was so spooked by the idea that fighting harder would be successfully spun as “not supporting the troops” that they decided to wait and hope for some bipartisan cover later in the year.

They’ll likely get it, though not, I suspect, in huge quantities. My guess is that maybe 20% of congressional Republicans will join them in voting to fund a gradual drawdown when September rolls around. If Democrats are willing to stand their ground and fight, that’s probably enough. If they aren’t, they’ll continue to lose support from a public that wants to see a sustained and determined challenge to the war.

If Democrats want to be taken seriously on national security, they need to be serious about national security. Sticking to their guns on Iraq is the place to start. Hesitation and indecision never won the public’s support for anything.

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