The Bush administration has acquired a well-deserved reputation for ignoring the public’s will. Last March, for example, Vice President Cheney famously told ABC’s Martha Raddatz that he doesn’t care about the public’s views on the Iraq war.
In part because of this disregard for the public, President Bush leaves office with the lowest approval ratings in modern history — 34 percent. In an exit interview yesterday with Larry King, Bush made clear that he is quite happy ignoring the public, saying that he doesn’t “give a darn” that Americans simply disdain him:
KING: How do you feel personally when you — you see the ratings and the polls that — and have you at 25, 30 percent…
BUSH: I don’t give a darn. I feel the same way as when they had me at 90 plus.
KING: The same?
BUSH: Yes, look it — these opinion polls are nothing but a, you know, a shot of yesterday’s news.
Yesterday, in an interview with Bloomberg, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice went a step further, arguing that the she doesn’t “care about perceptions” of the U.S. abroad:
Q: Why do you think we don’t get enough credit – you don’t get enough, he doesn’t get enough credit then? Because the perception is is that the U.S. has not smartly exercised its power around the world.
RICE: Oh, I don’t care about perceptions, Mike. I’ve learned in –
Q: But can you not (inaudible)?
RICE: No, of course, you can – you don’t – you shouldn’t.
According to Pew, “positive views of the United States declined in 26 of the 33 countries where the question was posed in both 2002 and 2007.” Curiously, in his recent press conference, Bush remarked, “I strongly disagree with the assessment that our moral standing has been damaged.”
Larry King asked Bush, “Don’t you want to be liked?” “Kind of,” admitted Bush, adding that “you really want to be liked on the day that really matters, when you are running for president, election day.” Apparently, on the other days, Bush can be as reckless as he wants.
Matt Yglesias observes, “Bush has remained seriously jerky to the end.”