Angles of Presidential Relevance

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President Bush's poll numbers have fallen into the low 30s, and he's even had to say at a news conference that he's still relevant. NPR Senior News Analyst Daniel Schorr agrees that the president is relevant, just not in the way the Bush would like.

LIANE HANSEN, host:

Only a quarter of Americans approve of the way President Bush is handling Iraq. His overall poll numbers are only slightly higher. The president even found it necessary to insist that he's still a player.

On that point, at least, NPR senior news analyst Daniel Schorr agrees with him.

DANIEL SCHORR: President Bush would like us to know that he is still relevant. He's relevant, all right, but not always in ways that he would enjoy. Mr. Bush was relevant in the Polish election last Sunday. A pro-American prime minister lost to an opponent who promised to bring Polish troops home from Iraq and to reconsider providing bases in Poland for the American missile defense system.

Mr. Bush is relevant in India, where the prime minister has put on hold a nuclear cooperation agreement with the United States. This, after opinion polls indicated that working with the Bush administration would cause the prime minister votes in India's next election.

In neighboring Pakistan, Mr. Bush is also relevant, but again as a political liability to President Pervez Musharraf and to comeback hopeful Benazir Bhutto. Bhutto's homecoming after an eight-year exile was shattered by a bomb attack for which Bhutto blames Islamic militants. And yet, she and Musharraf, both are paying a price because they're seen as doing President Bush's bidding in the war on terrorism.

Finally, President Bush's relevance is facing a test in the Middle East. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice hopes to restart the peace process with talks in Annapolis, Maryland in late November or early December. In 1991, the senior President Bush had no trouble getting all the parties to Madrid. The present president may assert his relevance, but at best its diminished and sometimes negative relevance.

This is Daniel Schorr.

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