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The Pre-SOTU analysis is in full swing -- time to watch the Bush team spin

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The Washington Post notes Bush's precarious standing:

Tuesday's speech, with its massive prime-time audience, may be the most important forum Bush has all year to try to seize the initiative from the Democrats and frame the election season on his terms. But he will be standing in the House as a far less formidable politician than when he stood on the same podium a year ago. A new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows Bush with a lower approval rating than any postwar president at the start of his sixth year in office -- with the exception of Richard M. Nixon, who was crippled by Watergate.

Bush's approval rating now stands at 42 percent, down from 46 percent at the beginning of the year, although still three percentage points higher than the low point of his presidency last November.
Okay, that basically means his approval rating has dropped this year. Most polls have Bush's approval in the high 30s to lows 40s. Meanwhile, over at the New York Times, Sheryl Gay Stohlberg seems to think Bush's approval is on the upswing, although she doesn't reference any specific polls. She apparently was swayed by the smooth talking Trent Lott:
The president's poll numbers, which plummeted last year, are beginning to inch up. The vote on Judge Alito's confirmation is likely to give a big boost for Republicans heading into the State of the Union address. Party leaders say Mr. Bush's hand will grow only stronger after the speech, in which he is expected to offer smaller-scale legislative initiatives on topics like health care and immigration.

"His rhetoric was more impressive than I've seen it in a while," Senator Trent Lott, Republican of Mississippi, said after Senate Republicans went to the White House on Friday to discuss their agenda with Mr. Bush. "He still has a great reservoir of support among Republicans."
Bottom line: This is a weak President. The scandals will keep coming. Abramoff isn't over. Fitzgerald still has some work to do. Iraq isn't improving. That means a concerted opposition strategy can prevail. In fact, the Washington Post/ABC News Poll shows stronger support for Democrats:
The poll also shows that the public prefers the direction Democrats in Congress would take the country as opposed to the path set by the president, that Americans trust Democrats over Republicans to address the country's biggest problems and that they strongly favor Democrats over Republicans in their vote for the House.
The Democrats have an opportunity. They need to be smart. They need to be strategic. The American people are ready for their leadership and their ideas.

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