June 10th, 2004

from NYT

Reagan: Media Myth and Reality

“Ronald Reagan was the most popular president ever to leave office,” explained ABC anchor Elizabeth Vargas (6/6/04). “His approval ratings were higher than any other at the end of his second term.” Though the claim was repeated by many news outlets, it is not true; Bill Clinton’s approval ratings when he left office were actually higher than Reagan’s, at 66 percent versus Reagan’s 63 percent (Gallup, 1/10-14-01). Franklin Delano Roosevelt also topped Reagan with a 66 percent approval rating at the time of his death in office after three and a half terms.

In general, Reagan’s popularity during his two terms tends to be overstated. The Washington Post’s lead article on June 6 began by declaring him “one of the most popular presidents of the 20th Century,” while ABC’s Sam Donaldson announced, “Through travesty, triumph and tragedy, the president enjoyed unprecedented popularity.” The Chicago Tribune (6/6/04) wrote that “his popularity with the electorate was deep and personal… rarely did his popularity dip below 50 percent; it often exceeded 70 percent, an extraordinarily high mark.”

But a look at Gallup polling data brings a different perspective. Through most of his presidency, Reagan did not rate much higher than other post-World War II presidents. And during his first two years, Reagan’s approval ratings were quite low. His 52 percent average approval rating for his presidency places him sixth out of the past ten presidents, behind Kennedy (70 percent), Eisenhower (66 percent), George H.W. Bush (61 percent), Clinton (55 percent), and Johnson (55 percent). His popularity frequently dipped below 50 percent during his first term, plummeted to 46 percent during the Iran-Contra scandal, and never exceeded 68 percent. (By contrast, Clinton’s maximum approval rating hit 71 percent.)

Which reminds me of my vague memories (we didn’t have cable, so I seldome saw it) of Spitting Image.

June 10th, 2004

Life Sucks

Ice Cream Prices on the Rise
Wednesday, June 9, 4:20 p.m. By Megan Dardanell

These are hard times for Mister Softee. Higher prices at the pump and the dairy are forcing prices up at the ice cream truck. That means customers in Scranton are paying more for their frozen treats.

When the weather’s nice Mister Gary’s Mister Softee shows up on the courthouse square in Scranton like clock work and ice creams fans quench their craving. But customers are noticing something different. Black tape covers the price list and a notice hangs in the window. The prices are up here by 25 cents across the board.

“The way the price of milk is and ice cream and gas, to get it right to your door, diesel to keep it cold, we had to raise it a quarter,” said Steve King of Mister Softee. Some people haven’t noticed the change. They said a small price increase won’t keep them from their ice cream. But they wouldn’t pay more than $2 for their treats.

Others don’t want to spend the extra money. Some customers have walked away because of the 25 cent price increase. Mr. Softee hopes it’s a temporary increase.

“Hopefully by the middle of the summer prices go down and we take these stickers down and go back to old prices,” said King.

For now, customers will have to get used to the new prices if they want their old favorite.

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