Pols and pols often a team


According to the latest polls, approximately 42 percent of the nation believes the president is doing a good job. Various favorability ratings go along the same vein, while other polls show the public’s confidence in his leadership skills rates a little higher. A figure on pollingreport.com shows that approximately 40 percent of the population approves of Judge Alito’s appointment and ...

Noticing a trend?

It would seem, judging by these numbers, that about two out of every five people support the president and his decisions. I’m guessing one could poll how many people approve of the president’s tie or his method of brushing his teeth in a circular manner and the numbers would stay about the same.

This just in — we’re divided.

Perhaps there is no more amusing example of that division to me than observing presidential addresses. While half-watching President Bush’s pep rally, er, State of the Union, address Tuesday night, I giggled how half the room would stand and applaud like Romans enjoying a gladiator battle after every sentence while the others would clap politely while looking around the room with a level of disinterest not seen since my ex-wife on our honeymoon.

Also on the belly laugh list for me was watching Vice President Cheney and Rep. Hastert seated behind the president throughout the address. Hastert looked like he wanted to be anywhere in the world but sitting in that seat, and, I can’t swear to this, but it seemed that when I looked real close I could see Cheney’s lips move whenever the president spoke. In fact, there might have been some thin strings going from Cheney’s hands to ...

But I digress.

What truly grabbed my attention throughout the night was the importance the television analysts placed on the current polls. The “pundits” spoke of the figures before the address began and opined that the speech would be designed to lift people’s spirits and generate enthusiasm for the administration. After the rally, pollsters quickly threw out numbers reflecting the 40 percent figure of satisfaction with the speech. Throughout the night, the talking heads pondered if various sections of the speech were aimed at alleviating distressing figures in various polls.

Curious, I popped in “Bush polls” onto a Google search and came out with 19,700,000 choices.

This got me thinking (be afraid).

Imagine living under the kind of stress that comes with being president. Fine, fine, there’s that whole issue of nuclear war, and I’m guessing the responsibility of sending people off to combat would be a burden, but I’m guessing that the polls would be no picnic, either.

Let’s face facts, by our very nature human beings are insecure. Many of us feel a need to be liked by everybody (fortunately, I have not been plagued by this desire) — we are pleasers, and pleasers do not like to think there is any conflict we can’t repair.

Imagine if a poll was conducted on your favorability in the community today. Now let’s say the results came back and they reveal that 80 percent of the people in this area think you are a good person. Presidential administrations would do backflips and ... well, I don’t even want to guess as to what else they’d do for a number like that.

But we’d look at 80 percent and think, well, 20 percent. That one-in-five polled who went against the “good person” vote would be the 20 percent that would garner the most attention, and cause the immediate rush to open a bottle of Tums. It would consume us. We would want to know who that 20 percent is, and what we could do to change their opinions.

Or what if our job approvals were polled?

What if servers at restaurants or Realtors or chefs were rated publically by how well they do their jobs? We know that town council members are elected, and that’s the ultimate kind of poll, but what about town clerks or police chiefs or weekly newspaper editors ... scratch that last one.

Would we change the way we do our jobs, or would we feel confident we’re doing the right things and keep going forward? How often are presidential decisions dictated by how well they’ll be received by the public?

I’m guessing quite a bit.

The fact of the matter is that polls consume us, particularly on the national level. I have seen polls rating the popularity of wars and others illustrating whether or not the public believes Brad Pitt was mean to Jennifer Aniston. There have been polls on digging up Alaska for oil and debating if dogs are more popular than cats. We are polled out.

And, by a 1-0 vote, I have decided to end this column now, rather than seeking deeper into the obtuse.