If you recall George W Bush’s 5th year in the presidency, Iraq was still going badly (the surge hadn’t worked yet), the news networks still had a daily count of the dead they featured and we were told that America was tired of war, and especially a war of choice. And then there was Katrina. We were also told that President Bush was suffering horrendous disapproval numbers, numbers so bad that they would be hard to beat in modern history.
When President Obama first ran for the White House in 2008, it was with the promise to turn the page on the presidency of George W. Bush. But for all their political differences, it turns out the American public pretty much view the two men in the same light, according to new polling data.
In the first week of November in the fifth year of their presidencies, Obama and Bush have nearly identical approval numbers, according to the latest Gallup polling.
In fact, Bush comes out one point ahead, 40 percent to 30 percent, respectively.
The Gallup daily tracking poll for November 5th 2013 puts Obama’s approval at 39 percent, with 53 percent disapproving of his job performance.
By comparison, polling for the first week of November in 2005 had Bush’s approval at 40 percent, with 55 percent disapproving of his job performance.
“By the same light” it seems obvious that the majority of the American people disapproved of both presidents at the same point in their presidency. But other than that the disapproval comes via different routes. President Bush was fighting not only an unpopular war, but a negative press and the Democratic party that continually went negative about he and his administration (something they seem to have forgotten since President Obama has taken office).
Obama, on the other hand, has pretty much gotten a free pass on Afghanistan and has had a supportive, almost adoring press that has mostly worked to blunt any criticism of he and his administration, to include any criticism by Republicans.
But despite that, his approval rating is in the toilet. Why? That’s the pregnant question, isn’t it? The answer seems to be “cumulative”. Over the years, as we’ve gotten to know Mr. Obama, we’ve found we don’t like him as much as we thought we might. We find he’s petulant and sometimes petty. We have learned he doesn’t like bad news, doesn’t like to be blamed for anything and when he is he tries to pass the blame off to others.
Or, in other words, we’ve discovered he isn’t much of a leader, not a particularly good politician and seems to have no idea about what he’s doing. We’ve seen our stock in the world plummet, the economy founder and his signature legislation – ObamaCare – is an unpopular disaster.
You’ll remember that the surge eventually worked in Afghanistan and that Bush’s numbers rallied slightly. Frankly I see nothing on the horizon that might do the same for Mr. Obama. Pundits say the government shutdown will hurt Republicans. But that’s been overshadowed by the ACA debacle. The economy continues to underwhelm, there are the NSA and IRS scandals, the Russians, Chinese and many others have absolutely no respect for this country’s leadership and Democrats rightly fear the ACA will sink them in 2014 unless it is fixed and fixed quickly.
Whatever you may say about President Bush, he was a leader. He made the unpopular decision to double down on Iraq and push the surge despite opposition both externally and internally. Mr. Obama shows no such leadership traits whatsoever. His is almost an absentee administration with his supposed “hands off” management style (a euphemism for not doing anything).
There seems to be no reason, given the facts of his “governing style” to expect Mr. Obama’s approval numbers to rally anytime soon if at all.
Update (Erika): Fixed the typo in the headline from “disapproval” to “approval,” oops!