From the email

This one’s from NBC News’ First Read for Monday August 1.

Just about everyone in politics has past or present reasons to be leery of August:

August is when the Crawford ranch becomes the "Western White House," and the base camp for many short trips by President Bush, in an effort to refute the image of a vacationing commander in chief. Bush leaves for Crawford tomorrow, sending John Bolton to the UN via a recess appointment before he goes (more on that below). Bush said in his Saturday radio address that he plans to visit seven states in August to talk about the economy and shrinking unemployment rate and deficit.

August is when gas prices tend to go up (and on top of that, the death of King Fahd may roil oil markets today, NBC's Bob Windrem notes). High gas prices are dragging on public opinion about the economy, even though many other measures show that things are humming along. The bipartisan polling team of Glen Bolger (R) and Stan Greenberg (D) recently conducted a survey for NPR to get at why Bush isn't getting credit for, as Bolger says, "a pretty darn strong economy." The folks at Greenberg suggest in a memo that "rising health care and gas costs" are reasons why "Republican statements about economic progress get a poor hearing."

August is when members of Congress head home to face constituents. This year, they do so with some of their lowest job approval ratings since the tsunami election of 1994. Republicans can tout their "earmarks" -- i.e., pork -- in the highway bill, but the energy bill doesn't address current gas prices. Democrats continue to
push their negative message about ethics and Social Security.

For the current First Read


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