Broccoli and Yellow Ribbons
"I don't live by the polls," George Bush assured reporters in a question-and-answer session in March 1990, a time when his high popularity and choice of particular activities led to worries that he did live by them. 1 In the following months, the questions became more persistent as both the popularity and the pattern of activity continued. Wasn't the president out of Washington quite a lot? Was he planning to make any legislative proposals? Shouldn't he say more about the longer-than-expected recovery period that other people were calling a recession?
As the memory of the Persian Gulf War victory faded, the voices reached a crescendo. A Newsweek story spoke of a "dramatic redefinition of the office" and proposed that Bush be brought home to eat his broccoli—that is, to pay attention to domestic problems. Even USA Today spoke of a "tide of discontent" and suggested that the president had canceled a foreign trip because of domestic political pressure. As people criticized Bush for jogging around the world and ignoring the economy, Republicans began to worry about the upcoming reelection. 2 By this time, of course, the polls had fallen, too. In March 1991, while waving the Gulf War flags and yellow ribbons, 86 percent of the public told the Gallup pollers that they approved of the way the president was doing his job; by December 1991, with only a few faded