Editorial

President George W. Bush’s approval rating — as measured by a public opinion poll jointly administered by USA Today, Gallup and CNN — soared to 90 percent as of Oct. 7.

This unprecedented level of public support, however, points to more than just another Bush victory in 2004. It indicates that the American public (or at least those represented in Sunday’s poll) has become devoid of the ability to react intelligently to the workings of the mass media.

American citizens, although justifiably dismayed by the tragic nature of the Sept. 11 events, have been religiously glued to their TVs, radios and Web sites, all of which have been almost fully dedicated to coverage of either Bush’s moves or America’s unfolding war.

However, besides a few more press conferences and the requisite flights to New York City, Bush’s presidential behavior and demeanor have actually changed very little since Sept. 11.

But even the poll’s authors may have been reluctant to admit that fact. One of the questions asked, “”Do you approve or disapprove of the way President Bush is handling the campaign against terrorism?”” This question’s wording left no room for respondents to consider whether Bush has had to do much “”handling”” in the first place.

In light of such considerations, Bush’s soaring approval ratings are most likely attributable to the fact that the public is simply seeing and hearing more of him, since he is now being automatically granted headline status like never before.

But perhaps what is most disappointing regarding Bush’s record-breaking 90 percent approval rating is that the record may have been broken only due to the fact that Americans today have greater access to the mass media than in the past.

Importantly, though he may not have done enough to raise his approval rating to such a high level in so little time, Bush is not to be held responsible for the ease with which the public has declared its overwhelming loyalty to him. Instead, the blame rests with those who have forgotten to remain critical thinkers at such a crucial time, as well as with those who are responsible for turning anything Bush says and does into the headlining story of the day.

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