Glass Half Full Department

Chatterbox’s former Slate colleague Paul Krugman, now directing the nation’s affairs as economics columnist for the New York Times, draws our attention to a report in Investor’s Business Daily about President Bush’s “leadership index,” as measured in a poll sponsored by IBD. In June it was 62 percent among men and 52 percent among women. In July it was 58 percent among men and 53 percent among women.

IBD interprets this as cheering news for the president. “Bush’s ‘Gender Gap’ Is Narrowing With Kinder, Gentler Focus,” proclaims the headline. The story, by Terry Jones, begins, “Six months into his term as the nation’s leader,  President Bush is finally getting in touch with his feminine side. A new  IBD/TIPP poll of 911 Americans shows that Bush has substantially closed the  so-called gender gap that was so evident during last year’s presidential race. … Since then, women have gotten a much closer look at what Bush means by ‘compassionate conservatism.’ And it seems they like what they see.”

A slight problem with this analysis is that Bush’s progress in closing the gap was achieved primarily by a four-point drop in his popularity among men, not by the trivial one-point increase in his popularity among women. Assuming boldly that half the population is men and half is women, Bush’s overall “leadership index” dropped by a point and a half. If his popularity continues to sink at the same rate, Bush will have completely eliminated the gender gap by next month.

Congratulations, Mr. President.