Made to be broken

Truman and Nixon share the record for lowest Presidential popularity, in the low 20s. Bush is around 28, but there’s greatness in the man: he may yet set the all-time low. His latest ploy: theatening to veto the extension of medical insurance to millions of children from working-poor families.

Hank Aaron holds the lifetime record of 755 homers, but Barry Bonds (when not riding the bench) is determined to overtake him.

Bonds is not alone in his determination to make history. Just as Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak is widely regarded as an unbreakable record, it seemed implausible that any President would be able to duplicate the feat achieved by Harry Truman (who didn’t deserve it) and Richard Nixon (who deserved it in spades) of leaving the Presidency with a job-performance rating in the low 20s.

But the Formerly Beloved Leader is persistent. He’s been stuck for about a month just below 30, a hard place to go down from, but the Mission Accomplisher won’t give up. And he’s found a move that may just do the trick: yesterday Mr. Bush threatened to veto a bipartisan measure to extend health insurance to a few million children of the working poor.

At this rate, I wouldn’t put it beyond GWB to end his term with ratings in the mid-teens.

Truly a champion. And he doesn’t even use anabolic steroids.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: