Taft falls from head of class to state clown

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 4, 2005

Ohio Gov. Bob Taft has never fired a great army general or botched an international rescue mission or even attempted to cover up a politically motivated break-in.

But you know what?

The people of Ohio still don't like him.

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That's right, Bob Taft has fallen from the head of the class, or at least the most popular candidate for governor, to the lowest of the low.

At least that's what the results of a poll conducted by The Columbus Dispatch newspaper show.

Taft's poll numbers are lower than President Truman after he fired Gen. Douglas MacArthur. He's sunk below the public embarrassment President Jimmy Carter felt during the Iran hostage crisis and subsequent failed rescue attempt.

And, believe it or not, Taft's negative poll numbers are lower than Tricky Dick himself, President Richard Nixon, who was torpedoed during the Watergate scandal.

Convicted of four misdemeanor ethics violations two months ago, Taft's public image has taken a major punch in recent months.

Aside from the personal debacle of not reporting gifts and free golf games, Taft also takes the guilt bullet as the man in charge during an unprecedented investment scandal that has left millions and millions of state tax dollars presumably lost forever.

If state politics were a high school, Bob Taft has dropped from being the brainy but popular student body president, to being the publicly outcast nerd.

What's amazing is how quickly Taft's popularity has plummeted.

If the poll is accurate, and we see no reason to doubt it, Taft has not only lost the moderate folks from the state, but also, what was once his base - rank and file Republicans.

Taft is still the governor for another year. And being the high school class nerd won't be much fun for Bob, or the state that doesn't fully trust him.