Understanding Obama’s Decline
posted at 5:08 pm on December 7, 2009 by Howard Portnoy
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.