36 years ago today, Ronald Reagan, just 69 days into his first term, was very nearly assassinated. Although his initial approval rating was in the low 50s, it spiked after the failed attempt on his life. That newfound popularity, though temporary, allowed Reagan to ram his historic tax plan through a Democratic congress. Although he spent the remainder of his presidency partially (and quietly) rolling back those tax cuts, the damage had already been done. Today, the country is still reeling from what his own Vice President, George H.W. Bush called “Voodoo Economics”.
20 years later, Bush’s son, George W. Bush was vacationing his way through his first term as president. On the morning of September 11, 2001, as he sat in an elementary school reading The Pet Goat, his approval rating hovered around 51 percent. After the tragic events of that day, the country rallied around their Commander-in-Chief. Bush used this “political capital” to lead the nation into one war, lie it into another (both of which still have boots on the ground) and set it on a course of fiscal and moral irresponsibility that continues to be felt a decade and a half later.
For whatever it’s worth, Donald Trump’s approval rating is much lower than either of his aforementioned predecessors.