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Byline: Craig Gilbert
WASHINGTON _ Two years after Sept. 11 and five months after the fall of Baghdad, President Bush has lost the huge political "bounce" from both rallying events.
Suddenly his position looks a lot like it did before the Sept. 11 attacks: approval in the low 50s, with Republicans and Democrats utterly polarized over his presidency.
"He's right back where he started," says non-partisan pollster John Zogby. "And that's where the nation is: 50/50."
But as Zogby notes, that's only part of the story.
While Bush's overall standing seems unchanged from his early days in office, the particulars are quite different.
Bush's marks on the economy and on the domestic front are worse than they were in the pre-Sept. 11 phase of his presidency. But his personal stature and the credit he still gets in the war on terrorism are helping contain the fallout from troubles at home and abroad.
In other words, the underlying dynamics have changed dramatically.
Though Democrats are emboldened by new polls giving Bush some of the lowest marks of his presidency, independent pollster Andrew Kohut thinks on balance the president remains in stronger shape than he was before …