Thursday, December 13, 2007

Parsing A Meme

That doesn't sound like a fun thing to do, does it? But someone must do it, I guess, and that might as well be me. The meme in question has to do with the argument that the Democratic Congress gets lower approval ratings than George Bush. This, according to many right-wing blogs, means that the Democrats have disgusted the American voters in less than a year and that the Republicans will retake the Congress soon.

Now, the Congress does get low approval ratings, and they are probably deservedly low. Still, it is important to note that it is the Republicans in Congress who get the really low ratings, not the Democrats. Perhaps the voters don't like their obstructionist tactics?

It is also worth noting that the approval ratings of the Congress have been low since the 1970's. Why that is the case would be an interesting question to study, but it is generally true that the respondents in various polls never like the Congress very much.

None of this is meant to argue that the low Congressional approval ratings wouldn't matter. They do, of course, especially when compared to the historical averages in the same category. But it's incorrect to compare these ratings to the ratings of George Bush, unless we are willing to expand the comparisons to earlier presidents, too.