The Boston Globe has an article on the sentiment of Hoosiers on the third anniversary of the Iraq War. Support for Bush appears to be eroding the heartland because of his incompetence in handling the Iraq War. Even the folks who still support the war and Bush don’t seem that enthusiastic about it. They don’t like that the weapons of mass destruction never materialized. They don’t see an exit strategy. They’re willing to make excuses for Bush (e.g., it’s partisan politics, it’s the liberal media, he just got bad intelligence), but they don’t see how this will end well.
Hurricane Katrina didn’t help matters. Everybody saw the city of New Orleans destroyed and it is not a great mental leap to substitute a terrorist attack for the hurricane to see how ineffectual the government response would apparently be in the event of a future attack on that scale.
The article goes on to tie the Dubai Ports deal to the toll road privatization:
[T]here was nearly unanimous incredulity across Indiana at Bush’s support for a deal that would have put a Dubai company in charge of six US ports.
Many connected the Dubai ports row to a state controversy — Republican Governor Mitch Daniels’s efforts to lease the Indiana Toll Road to a foreign firm for the next 75 years. Support for Daniels, a former top aide to Bush, is just as low as it is for the president.
”People don’t think Indiana should sell its toll road to foreigners, and they don’t want someone with a turban running our ports,” said Denny Thomas, a retired trucker sitting near video poker machines at the back of a smoke-filled tobacco bar in LaPorte.
Daniels, who ran in 2004 on the slogan ”My Man Mitch,” as Bush once referred to him, has also drawn fire for ramming through a law requiring Indiana to join the rest of the country on daylight saving time. The measure is wildly unpopular in rural areas.
One partisan Republican was interviewed who said there is a difference between regular dissatisfaction and a dissent that will move an election and opined that there was that feeling in the air. The article briefly discusses Joe Donnelly’s attempts to unseat Chris Chocola as a rubber stamp for Bush before getting to this quote that I think is spot on:
John Roos, a political science professor at the University of Notre Dame, said the dissatisfaction with Bush’s record in Iraq might hand the 2006 election to Democrats by persuading disgruntled Republicans across the American heartland to stay home.
”It’s not that they have become Democrats, and it’s not that they have decided the war on Iraq and especially the war on terrorism is wrong,” Roos said. ”The people of Indiana just think [Bush] is not very good at being president.”
And, finally, the article closes strong:
All the talk lately about Bush and the problems with Iraq bemuses Susan Grimes, a waitress at the South Junction CafÃ©, a lonely outpost at the intersection of state roads 6 and 35. Grimes said listening to her customers complain has turned her off politics.
”I hear all these people come in and say: ‘That President Bush, we got to get that guy out of there.’ But you ask them who they voted for, and they hush up because they were the ones who voted him in. He’s their boy.”