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Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Fair Is Fair

A new Wall Street Journal poll has President Bush's negative rating at 65 percent, with just 34 perecent in his corner. Except: What the Journal calls "negative" includes respondents who said the president is doing a "fair or poor" job.

Since when is "fair" negative? Doesn't fair mean OK? Not spectacular, but also not lying and incompetent and insular and lacking in language skills?

Call it approval deflation. The WSJ pollsters are buying into the Bushies' Manichean, dualist world-view by insisting that everyone's opinion of the man can be reduced to pass/fail. But as Bush so effortlessly demonstrated throughout his pre-presidential career, many of us are more than capable of a so-so job. And we count. When someone tells me that a story I did was "OK"--happens all the time!--I quite reasonably infer that they didn't like it so much, but also that they didn't hate it. If a market research survey found that 65 percent of this blog's readers (all eight of you) rated it as "fair"--well, fair is better than "poor," right?

Don't get me wrong. If you think Bush is doing a fair job, you are an idiot. (Sorry Dad). But some portion of the public rates his performance as fair, and to lump those assessments in with those who think he's doing a poor job under the banner "negative" does a disservice to mediocrity. Sometimes it's OK to be OK.