According to polls, President Bush has seen a significant decline in his credibility numbers. On one hand, the drop needs to be kept in perspective. Yes, fewer people believe that W is honest and trustworthy (but that group still represents a majority) and fifty-four percent of those polled believe he lied or exaggerated about pre-war intelligence. Given the circumstances of the moment, those numbers don’t seem that bad. They are however a long way from what now looks like it may have been W’s credibility bubble. And people are questioning his honesty surrounding matters that helped him to gain the trust in the first place.
The president is currently working hard to weaken another attack on his credibility by ordering (again, it seems, no?) the release of his military records. According the White House, Bush made the order to counter those who want to create the “wrong impression” about his service. (Turns out he was actually a war hero…)
Are these drops in trust a back-breaker? Maybe not. But even if the numbers aren’t horrible, they shouldn’t be underestimated. As Joshua of Talking Points Memo points out, W’s “strong suit has always been honesty and trusthworthiness — that and the closely related quality of ‘leadership’. If he loses that, politically speaking, he’s finished.”