I’m not sure why a majority of America once did consider Obama a strong and decisive leader, but then there are a lot of things I can’t explain. But Gallup’s latest poll makes it clear than President Obama is no long considered a strong and decisive leader, at least for the moment:
After six messy weeks — defined chiefly by the partial government shutdown and troubled rollout of the federal government’s healthcare exchange website — President Barack Obama’s reputation with the American public has faltered in some ways, but not in others. Most notably, for the first time in his presidency, fewer than half of Americans, 47%, say Obama is a “strong and decisive leader,” down six percentage points since September.
The current spin coming from the White House and Democrats says this is all a cumulative bump in the road that had to be suffered. The disastrous ObamaCare rollout, the government shutdown, the perceived lie about keeping one’s healthcare insurance if they wanted it have all, as Obama’s favorite preacher would say have “come home to roost”.
The question, however, isn’t when will this pass, but whether it will pass at all? Is this just a bump in the road for the Obama team or is it the “new normal” for him?
There’s no question the trend in his approval ratings the past few months have been anything but encouraging. One thing politicians have learned throughout the ages that they’re unlikely to keep their job if they lose the trust of their constituency. There’s obviously very little reason for Obama to be concerned about losing his job, however, loss of trust now, barely into his second term, could mean his second term agenda is all but dead on arrival. His desire to push immigration reform and climate change legislation wouldn’t even get our of the starting gate. That’s because other politicians, the ones he needs to get the job done for him, will have no fear of defying his wishes and facing the wrath of the people.
So how has Mr. Obama’s trustworthiness done? Not well:
Similarly, the share of Americans who view Obama as “honest and trustworthy” has dipped five points. Exactly half of Americans still consider Obama honest and trustworthy, but this is down from 55% in September and 60% in mid-2012 as Obama was heading toward re-election.
He’s at 50% and sinking. And you’ve got other Democrats taking the lead in trying to fix the ObamaCare debacle while he seems to be doing what he usually does – dither.
The hit, then, to both his trustworthiness and decisiveness are a bit of a double whammy to his ambitious agenda. And it may not be recoverable as Gallup points out:
Of more concern for the White House, Obama’s once-positive image as a strong and decisive leader has suffered, in addition to his longtime reputation for being honest and trustworthy. Of these, the decline in Obama’s honesty rating may be the most noteworthy because Gallup has previously found that this dimension is one of the most important drivers of his overall job approval. Thus, the recent controversy over whether the president honestly described Americans’ ability to retain their own healthcare plans under the Affordable Care Act could have the most significant implications for his presidency.
As Insty would say, indeed. Taking hits in decisiveness and trustworthiness are not hits you shrug off. They represent core qualities or a lack thereof and once lost, they’re very hard to regain. Mr. Obama is seen more and more to be lacking those qualities. That doesn’t bode will for him in the next 3 years.