Tales from the Trail

Washington Extra – The relative merits of Obama, Stewart, Palin and baseball

jonIt is unclear to me if appearing on “The Daily Show” will have done much for President Barack Obama’s ratings. But it doesn’t seem to have helped Jon Stewart’s much. Nielsen data just in shows last night’s episode attracted 2.8 million viewers (minus TiVo data), compared to the show’s average of roughly 3.6 million an episode. Not sure if it says much about the president, except that people probably watch the Daily Show for Jon Stewart, not for his guests. Or maybe they were just watching the World Series.

That said, I suspect Sarah Palin would draw higher ratings if she ever graced Stewart’s studio. Instead, the former vice presidential candidate will be on air on Entertainment Tonight this evening. Asked bluntly if she planned to run for president, Palin said she would take a look at the lay of the land, to see if there was anyone else with the “common sense, conservative, pro-Constitution passion” she believes in.

If so, they would get her wholehearted support. If not: “if there’s nobody else to do it, then of course I would believe that we should do this.” As our blogger Toby Zakaria observed, it may come down to a definition of “nobody”, because there is of course likely to be a healthy Republican field, many of whom may indeed share that passion.

Finally, an interesting poll from long-time Democratic pollster Doug Schoen via US News and World Report. The highlights: more voters think George W. Bush was a better president than Obama than the other way around. And a majority think the president does not deserve a second term.

Ironically, of course, he might still get one. Half of the voters surveyed wanted a third party in American politics, and, even now, in the depth of his midterm blues, Obama might still win a three-way race. In a contest between Obama, Republican Mitt Romney and Palin, for example, Obama would sneak through with 40 percent of voters, ahead of Romney with 32 percent and Palin with 17.

George W. Bush starting to emerge from cone of silence

George W. Bush is slowly starting to emerge from a self-imposed cone of silence that he has generally adhered to since leaving Washington for Texas when he turned over the presidency to Barack Obama.

BASEBALL/President No. 43 gave a lecture at the University of Texas in Tyler, Texas, on Tuesday and spoke before a sold-out crowd of 2,000 people. All this is according to the Tyler newspaper.

Bush talked up a book he has written about major decisions he made as president, “Decision Points,” which is to be published on Nov. 9. The author will be doing a number of major interviews surrounding the publication of his memoir, including with a Facebook fan.

Are Obama’s approval ratings that bad? Maybe not, relatively speaking

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President Obama’s approval rating has been below 50 percent for most of 2010. But are things really so bad? Gallup suggests they’re not, relatively speaking.

In fact, Democratic incumbents who’ve shunned or tried to avoid associating with Obama may have denied themselves the chance to firm their own party base for an election contest that’s all about turnout.

The Obama approval rating, at the moment, stands in the mid- to low-40s and foreshadows stiff losses for congressional Democrats on Nov. 2. 

In House, bipartisanship is in eye of the beholder

A top Democrat is fed up with House Republican Leader John Boehner citing their work together years ago as an example of Boehner’s commitment to bipartisanship.

Representative George Miller says Boehner — in line to become House speaker if Republicans win the chamber in the Nov. 2 election — is long-time partisan and everyone should know it.

“The fact is, the only bipartisan moment Representative Boehner can point to is working with me nine years ago” on an education bill that Republican President George W. Bush “had made a priority,” Miller said. “Everything since has been partisan opposition to issues of great importance to America’s middle class.” BUSH TAXES

Obama campaigning tactic: bash Bush years

President Barack Obama has apparently decided that the way to win voters’ hearts is to warn them against a return to the Bush years.

He’s been in campaign mode this week trying to drum up enthusiasm for Democrats worried about losing their majority in Congress with just one month left until the Nov. 2 election. OBAMA/

In a backyard in Iowa, Obama told voters the election was a choice between going back to the Bush years or moving ahead (although he never uttered his predecessor’s name).

Obama ends Iraq war where it began — the Oval Office

The Iraq war ended where it began — at the president’s desk in the White House Oval Office.

President Barack Obama declared the end of U.S. combat operations in Iraq with his hands folded on the desk where 7-1/2 years earlier President George W. Bush announced the beginning of military operations. IRAQ/OBAMA-SPEECH

“Much has changed since that night,” Obama said in the second Oval Office prime-time televised address of his presidency.

Washington Extra – In the heart of Texas

President Barack Obama took his attack on the economic policies of George W. Bush to his predecessor’s home state of Texas today, at a pair of Democratic fundraisers.

OBAMA/But even as he hits the campaign trail in earnest,  we wonder how much use the president will be in boosting the electoral fortunes of his own party in November’s elections. For sure, the president will help enormously to bring in the bucks, but how many votes will he corral as well?

Many Democrats will want to keep their distance from a president whose approval ratings just keep falling. Bill White for one. The Democratic nominee for Texas governor declined an invitation to attend Obama’s  events, a decision the White House said it didn’t take as an insult.

Ahmadinejad says bin Laden in Washington

BINLADEN/Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has the answer to the question that has plagued the United States since Sept. 11, 2001. 

He knows where Osama bin Laden is — in Washington. OBAMA/

In an interview with ABC’S “Good Morning America” on Wednesday, Ahmadinejad rejected reports that the al Qaeda leader was in Iran.

“I heard that Osama bin Laden is in the Washington, D.C.,” Ahmadinejad said through an interpreter in a contentious give-and-take with his interviewer, George Stephanopoulos.

Poisoning at the G-8? Laura Bush says that was a concern in 2007

Were President George W. Bush and his entourage poisoned at a G-8 summit in Germany back in 2007?

Former first lady Laura Bush says that was a big concern at the time.

She made the comment in her new memoir, “Spoken from the Heart,” which is due to be released in early May. The New York Times and Politico obtained copies of the book.
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The Group of Eight summit at Heiligendamm, Germany, came at a time when there had been several high-profile poisonings in the previous year, including one with suspected nuclear material.

“I arrived (at the summit) and began my events but by the afternoon of (June) seventh, I could barely stand up,” Laura Bush wrote in extracts published by Politico.

Ben’s Chili Bowl serves up half smoke to French leader

French President Nicolas Sarkozy may come from one of the world’s culinary capitals, but it seems whenever he comes to America more simple fare awaits him – hot dogs or sausages. USA

In 2007 when Sarkozy visited President George W. Bush at the family estate in Kennebunkport, Maine, he was offered a lunch of hamburgers and hot dogs as the leaders tried to improve relations strained by the Iraq war.

Three years later he comes to Washington and where does he stop before going to the White House? Ben’s Chili Bowl.