He Who Lives by the Polls, Dies by the Polls

March 17, 2002

by Bruce Walker

Recall the eight awful years of Slick Willie? What was the mantra of the Democrat Left? "Polls show that the American people are very happy with the job that Bill Clinton is doing." My old church choir director, who had doctoral degrees in both medicine and music and was as gentle as a lamb and as strong as a lion, had a favorite maxim: Time wounds all heels.

Jesus put it differently to Peter at Gethsemene: "He who lives by the sword shall die by the sword." Although some Christians, like Quakers and Mennonites, have interpreted Christ’s words to enjoin all violence, most of us have considered the phrase "live by the sword" as the real message. Soldiers, police officers, men defending their homes from burglars - these are not people who seek through violence to build their own greatness and power.

Bill Clinton and his Democrats reveled in eight years of taking polls on every possible subject and conforming the image of his policies to reflect what the people seemed to want. The faked tear, the ornamental pet "Buddy," the hand-holding with his scheming and amoral wife - every move, every word, every gesture was manufactured to keep Clinton’s popularity artificially high.

Slick Willie and his moll seem to have studied the Reagan Presidency as closely as they did the Kennedy Presidency, and they imagine that they learned something. Was not Reagan the first "Teflon President" on whom no muck would stick? Did not Reagan’s Hollywood honed talent at communication really produce the success of his presidency?

Conservatives know that this silly liberal view of Ronald Reagan is pure wishful thinking. Yes, President Reagan’s ability to give a powerful speech was helped by the discipline of his acting career, and yes, President Reagan’s comfort in front of the camera - whether in debates or in press conferences - was undoubtedly aided by an understanding of camera angles, make-up, and sheer experience.

Even as a professional actor, however, Ronald Reagan gained a solid reputation as good natured, hard working, honorable, and sincere - everything George W. Bush is and everything Bill Clinton was not - and the recent book, In His Own Hand, shows in Ronald Reagan’s own manuscript, without editing, how very studious and thoughtful Reagan was regarding public affairs.

These are qualities other leaders have shared. John Kennedy was bright; he was courageous; he worked hard; he set real goals (America did not reach the Moon by accident). Winston Churchill overcame countless obstacles and became an exceptional orator, writer and charmer. But these men were genuine.

The contrast between Reagan, Kennedy, and Churchill on one hand, and Slick Willie and Hillary! on the other hand is stark. Does anyone dream that if a would be assassin shot at Clinton or Hillary! that either would conduct himself with the calm courage of President Reagan? Can anyone imagine Slick carrying a comrade in arms across the Pacific after his PT boat was sunk? Or Hillary! facing the threats that Churchill faced throughout his long life?

But - Clinton always did well in the public opinion polls, so say Democrats. Only now President Bush is doing much, much better than Bill Clinton or any American president has ever done in the same polls (so much so that some polling organizations - doubtless out of disgust at a conservative’s strong showing - have simply stopped polling the president’s approval rating.)

Moreover, the president’s personal approval rating has remained very high, and his approval rating on different types of issues has remained very high. The president’s popularity appears to have helped Republicans some and appears to have hurt Democrats much. How can Daschle or Rodham or Gore snip at this good man and great president? They cannot.

The notion that leaders create good poll numbers seems simply not to have occurred to these leftists. President Reagan took unpopular positions and stood by them. Reagan watched his poll numbers drop without seeing the need to change his policies at all. Ronald Reagan never engaged in the sort of vile ad hominem attacks which are the bread and salt of Democrats.

Americans recognized this as leadership. George Washington and Abraham Lincoln would probably have had single digit job approval ratings at many points during the Revolutionary War and the Civil War. They choose the noble path which beckoned good men to follow them and to accept Valley Forge and Gettysburg.

President Bush has done the same in his short tenure as President. Recall when he first announced his candidacy as a "compassionate conservative" when one of the crabs of the Leftist media sneeringly asked him "What exactly does ‘compassionate conservative’ mean anyway?" Our future president’s response: "Which of those two words don’t you understand?"

Why are the president’s poll numbers so high? Americans recognize the president must be the president of all America. He is expected to lead people, not follow polls. He is expected to take chances from the political front lines, rather than to have others take the fall for him (as Clinton so famously and so often did - was Clinton ever "responsible" for anything that went bad? - if he was, I cannot remember it). George W. Bush understands this duty.

CBS News recently ran a story about the president’s popularity entitled "What a Difference a War Makes." Liberals just do not get it. Vietnam dragged down the Johnson Presidency and Korea dragged down the Truman Presidency. Americans as a people do not love wars and this most Christian nation on Earth does not love wars. President Bush’s popularity is a direct response of how he is handling the real horror of a necessary war.

The president is not lying to us and he and his team are not sugar coating the real dangers to America and the democracies. Clinton would have declared victory by now and basked in a nice bump in the polls. Carter would have floundered around, trying to win an international popularity contest. This President is trying to defeat evil and bring victory to goodness.

In democracies, we call that leadership, and we expect presidents to lead us. When they do - even when the seas are stormy and our friends are few - then the American people respond. He who lives by the poll, as Slick Willie and his Democrats have done, will die by the poll, but he who tries to do what is right, though all alone at times, will find America and public opinon polls following his lead.


Bruce Walker has been a dyed in the wool conservative since, as a sixth grader, he campaigned door to door for Barry Goldwater. Bruce has had almost two hundred published articles have appeared in the Oklahoma Bar Journal, Law & Order, Legal Secretary Today, The Single Parent, Enter Stage Right, Citizen's View, The American Partisan, Port of Call, and several other professional and political periodicals.

Send the author an E mail at Walker@ConservativeTruth.org.

For more of Bruce's articles, visit his archives.

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