As part of imbalanced panel, NY Daily News' Goodwin cited unnamed "recent poll that shows that Bush ... is held in much higher regard than congressional Democrats"

››› ››› JOE BROWN

On Lou Dobbs Tonight, New York Daily News columnist Michael Goodwin claimed that "a recent poll ... shows that [President] Bush ... is held in much higher regard than congressional Democrats." Goodwin did not cite a specific poll, and neither Ed Rollins nor John Fund, the other two guests, challenged his claim. However, the two major recent polls that pitted Bush against congressional Democrats in the same question show that more Americans think congressional Democrats will do a better job of handling most key issues.

On the February 3 edition of CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight, New York Daily News columnist Michael Goodwin claimed that "a recent poll ... shows that [President] Bush ... is held in much higher regard than congressional Democrats." Goodwin did not cite a specific poll as the basis for his claim, but the two major recent polls that pitted Bush against congressional Democrats in the same question show that more Americans think congressional Democrats will do a better job of handling most key issues and more Americans think the country "should go in the direction" congressional Democrats would take it. The comments came during a discussion in which Goodwin, whose columns have appeared on the conservative websites FrontPageMag.com and Jewish World Review, was joined by Republican strategist and former Reagan political director Ed Rollins and Wall Street Journal columnist John Fund but no Democrats or progressives.

Neither Rollins nor Fund -- nor the show's guest host, CNN correspondent Kitty Pilgrim -- challenged Goodwin's assertion. Pilgrim began by asking Rollins for his thoughts about newly elected House Majority Leader John Boehner's (R-OH) "surprise victory over [House Majority Whip] Roy Blunt [R-MO]," who also ran for the majority leader position. Rollins called Boehner "a very effective leader," characterizing him as "articulate" and stating that "he'll basically make a good difference." Pilgrim then asked Fund, "[W]ill we be able to get distance on the [former lobbyist Jack] Abramoff scandal and the lobbying issue with him [Boehner], or is he still involved in this?" Fund responded that although "any congressional leader is going to have lobbyist friends," Boehner "has the support of the reformers, even if he's not a complete reformer." After Pilgrim noted that the first two panelists had given Boehner "two good, positive reviews," she asked Goodwin for his thoughts on the issue. Goodwin stated:

GOODWIN: Well, I think the good news for Republicans is that the Democrats are in disarray, too. I think that the Democrats don't really know what to do. They're against everything the president is for, but beyond that, I think it's not really working. There's a recent poll that shows that Bush is much more -- is held in much higher regard than congressional Democrats. So I think that the Republicans may have a little time to get their act together.

Although a January 12 Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll and a January 4-8 Pew Research poll show higher approval ratings for President Bush than for congressional Democrats, the same polls also show higher disapproval ratings for Bush and a bigger negative gap between approval and disapproval for Bush than for congressional Democrats. And more recent polls that pit Bush and congressional Democrats head to head in the same question report that more Americans trust congressional Democrats to handle a majority of specific issues and most Americans want the country to head in the direction congressional Democrats would take it, as opposed to the direction President Bush would take it. A January 26 Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll asked respondents who they thought would do a better job of handling four specific issues: taxes, the federal budget deficit, health care, and protecting the nation from terrorism. The authors of the poll noted:

The only issue that Bush defeats Democrats on is who would be best at protecting the nation against terrorism. When asked who could do a better job of handling taxes -- 43% thought the Democrats in Congress would be better, compared to 34% for the president; handling the federal budget deficit -- 47% said the Democrats and 30% sided with Bush; handling health care issues - 53% mentioned the Democrats and 25% supported Bush; better job of protecting the nation against terrorism -- 45% thought Bush would be better, while 32% thought that about the Democrats.

Additionally, a January 26 Washington Post/ABC News poll asked respondents: "Do you think the country should go in the direction (Bush wants to lead it), go in the direction (the Democrats in Congress want to lead it), or what?" A majority of respondents -- 51 percent -- said the country should go in the direction congressional Democrats want to lead it, compared with 35 percent who said the country should go in the direction Bush wants to lead it.

From the February 3 edition of CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight:

PILGRIM: It's been a busy week in Washington. Now, the country has a new Supreme Court justice, and House Republicans chose their new majority leader.

Joining me to discuss those issues and a lot more are three of the nation's leading political minds. We have Ed Rollins, who served as President Reagan's political director; John Fund from The Wall Street Journal; and Michael Goodwin of the New York Daily News.

So let's start with you, Ed. What are your thoughts about the Boehner issue, and the victory, surprise victory over Roy Blunt, who two weeks ago said he had it in the bag, basically.

ROLLINS: Well, I've watched many walk in thinking they have it and not have it. Boehner is a very effective leader. He was a leader in the early [former House Speaker Newt] Gingrich [R-GA] days, and I think he's a good face. I think he's articulate. I think he'll basically make a good difference. Good difference.

PILGRIM: John, will we be able to get distance on the Abramoff scandal and the lobbying issue with him, or is he still involved in this?

FUND: Well, any congressional leader is going to have lobbyist friends. That's -- a lot of the Democratic leaders have those connections, too. The conservative movement had become disgusted with the high-spending pork-barrel practices of Congress under [former House Majority Leader] Tom DeLay [R-TX].

They basically turned out en masse and said to Roy Blunt, "We don't like you. We think you're too tied to the past." I think that was a critical difference in making John Boehner majority leader. He has the support of the reformers, even if he's not a complete reformer.

PILGRIM: Yeah. And, so, two good, positive reviews. What about you, Michael?

GOODWIN: Well, I think the good news for Republicans is that the Democrats are in disarray, too. I think that the Democrats don't really know what to do. They're against everything the president is for, but beyond that, I think it's not really working. There's a recent poll that shows that Bush is much more -- is held in much higher regard than congressional Democrats. So I think that the Republicans may have a little time to get their act together.

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