Green Room

Understanding Obama’s Decline

posted at 5:08 pm on December 7, 2009 by

From the Department of Redundancy Department comes this headline at Real Clear Politics, linked to an NYT story: “As Obama’s Poll Numbers Fall, Criticism Rises.” In fairness to John Harwood, who wrote the Times article, the actual headline reads “As Obama’s Poll Numbers Fall, Criticism of Multitasking Rises” [emphasis added]

Ahh, that’s more better. So the main beef among those polled then is not Barack Obama’s approach to identifying, much less solving, America’s problems in the first year of his presidency. It’s that he’s tried to do too much at once. So in Harwood’s world — or more correctly the world of the dissatisfied masses whose temperature he believes he is taking — the “stimulus” has worked (or would have worked), the plan to scrap our current health care system in favor of a single-payer system might work if (and when) passed, and the neither-here-nor-there approach to Afghanistan will work, but all would have worked better (been more effective) had Obama not tackled so many different issues at once.

The problem with this sort of reasoning is twofold: (1) It doesn’t make any sense and (2) it misses the larger point. It doesn’t make any sense because it assumes that Barack Obama’s only deficiency (were that it was so) is that he is impatient and should have taken more time to implement his grand scheme to “remake” America. However, the belief that America needs to be “remade” did not exist so far as I know among the rank and file of Democrats before Obama announced this as his plan.

The larger point that it misses is that most Americans don’t want their country reconfigured in the image of a European-style socialist democracy. Troubling though this may be to Democrats, who basically stick their fingers in their ears and sing when anyone they perceive as non-supporters express their views, the country remains center-right in its political views. This fact partly explains why Obama’s aggregate approval rating is currently at 49 percent and falling.

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Ace ODale on December 7, 2009 at 5:36 PM

As someone who has written about Obama’s “too much, too soon” agenda, I think there is something to the criticism, though not as Harwood frames it. Obama’s multi-tasking made the scope of his overall agenda obvious to the general public — beyond political junkies — helping drive his disapproval numbers higher. Had he tried to boil the frog slowly, he might be in a better political position today, because the apolitical middle would be largely unaware of his plans.

Karl on December 7, 2009 at 6:23 PM

Obama’s problem – along with Pelosi, Reid, at al. – has to do with the strawman that got elected President. The Left knew they would only have two short years to enact their ambitious plans before the door closed with the 2010 elections. However, they didn’t count on Obama being such a transparent phony so quickly. As a result, the LEFT is in a hurry to pass the boatload of legislation before the wheels totally come off the bus. They’re trying to overload the system in hopes that some of it gets by.

Ace ODale on December 7, 2009 at 6:45 PM

A large part of the error on the left was assuming that Obama’s popularity a year ago would allow them to transcend the overall negatives liberal policies in the past 30 years have been regarded by the American public.

They believed in the idea that Obama could basically sell refrigerators to Eskimos and in the wake of the stimulus bill being passed, weren’t willing to wait on their other plans, which in their minds had been thwarted by the Republicans and even by Bill Clinton since 1995. But one of the reasons for Obama’s popularity among moderate swing voters is he ran saying he wasn’t going to be an aggressive ideologue who would force his beliefs down the public’s throats.

What they’re finding out is personal popularity doesn’t trump ideology, long-term and that in putting their hopes in a pretty, non-threatening package like Barack Obama, they elected a man whose attractiveness to those moderate swimg voters rests in large part on his passiveness. The more aggressive and dogmatic Obama and/or his staff and supporters become in pushing their ideology, the less popular the president is, because the swing voters no longer see him as the same person they elected. And the more different things he does that the public doesn’t like, the more those swing voters turn away.

jon1979 on December 7, 2009 at 7:00 PM

Vote 2008 was also a high-cost repudiation of the treacherous, unstable McCain and RINO business-as-usual. The mistaken calculation (McCain doesn’t hate the country) left Palin with better long-term prospects. Had she been stuck in a McCain administration, she’d have been tarred with a similar goofiness, incompetence, MSM lies, and slide to the left as Cheney. Of course, informed conservatives know the better truth about Cheney, but the average voter doesn’t.

Feedie on December 7, 2009 at 8:42 PM

Obama promised many things and was excellent at calling for Change however he had no previous track record of ever accomplishing anything to brag about. He skillfully avoided discussing his record as a State and then US Senator with the media as his cheerleader. When his ties to radicals was exposed he and his media cronies used the defense of ” Guilt by Association” yada yada. Yeah you can be guilty by association. Or the ” I was only 8″ defense for Ayers terrorism. John McCain was only 8 when Hitler killed millions of Jews and I didn’t see McCain befriend any old Nazis.

Dennis D on December 8, 2009 at 8:23 AM

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