Barely six months into his presidency, Barack Obama seems to be driving south into that political speed trap known as Carter Country: a sad-sack landscape in which every major initiative meets not just with failure but with scorn from political allies and foes alike. According to a July 13 CBS News poll, the once-unassailable president's approval rating now stands at 57 percent, down 11 points from April. Half of Americans think the recession will last an additional two years or more, 52 percent think Obama is trying to "accomplish too much," and 57 percent think the country is on the "wrong track."Incredible. I agree totally that Bush's presidency was a disaster, but our "liberal media" here has decided that Obama's efforts to try to do anything to actually fix any of the myriad of problems Bush left us are just...too hard. They have already declared GM and Chrysler to be failures after only a few months, have given up on the stimulus plan totally, are complaining that health care reform will cost too much and they hate bank bailouts (which of course were actually done by Bush.)
From a lousy cap-and-trade bill awaiting death in the Senate to a health-care reform agenda already weak in the knees to the failure of the stimulus to deliver promised jobs and economic activity, what once looked like a hope-tastic juggernaut is showing all the horsepower of a Chevy Cobalt. "Give it to me!" the president egged on a Michigan audience last week, pledging to "solve problems" and not "gripe" about the economic hand he was dealt.
Despite such bravura, Obama must be furtively reviewing the history of recent Democratic administrations for some kind of road map out of his post-100-days ditch.
So far, he seems to be skipping the chapter on Bill Clinton and his generally free-market economic policies and instead flipping back to the themes and comportment of Jimmy Carter. Like the 39th president, Obama has inherited an awful economy, dizzying budget deficits and a geopolitical situation as promising as Kim Jong Il's health. Like Carter, Obama is smart, moralistic and enamored of alternative energy schemes that were nonstarters back when America's best-known peanut farmer was installing solar panels at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Like Carter, Obama faces as much effective opposition from his own party's left wing as he does from an ardent but diminished GOP.
And perhaps most important, as with Carter, his specific policies are genuinely unpopular. The auto bailout -- which, incidentally, is illegal, springing as it has from a fund specifically earmarked for financial institutions -- has been reviled from the get-go, with opposition consistently polling north of 60 percent. Majorities have said no to bank bailouts and to cap and trade if it would make electricity significantly more expensive.
According to a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll, more than 80 percent are concerned that health-care reform will increase costs or diminish the quality of care. Even as two House committees passed a reform bill last week, the director of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office warned that the proposal "significantly expands the federal responsibility for health-care costs" and dramatically raises the cost "curve." This sort of voter and expert feedback can't be comforting to the president.
As writers who inveighed against last year's GOP candidate and called George W. Bush's presidency a "disaster," we're equal-opportunity critics. As taxpayers with children and hence some small, almost certainly unrecoverable stake in this country's future (not to mention that of General Motors, Chrysler and AIG), we write with skin in the game and the fear that our current leader will indeed start busting out the 1970s cardigans.
How dare Obama try to fix these horrible problems caused by throwing trillions down the Iraq/Afghanistan/tax cuts for the wealthy/bank deregulation rathole by daring to spend taxpayer money! If only Obama would listen to the will of the people who elected all these Democrats into power and let the Republicans run the country like Clinton did (oh sure, Clinton got savaged and eventually impeached by the Republicans, who then allowed the Bush-Cheney junta to wreck our economy and Democrats were thrust into office with massive majorities in Congress, but other than that Americans prefer the GOP way of running things.)
Really, it seems, Obama should just give up and go back to the same Republican pillars of TAXEN CUTTEN UBER ALLES, letting multi-trillion dollar industries police themselves, and cutting government programs that would help poor people. It's the only way we can all become rich, you know.
And yet, this is only the beginning of treating a President with a 57% approval rating like he was orders of magnitude worse than the last guy in office stuck at 27% or so for the last several years of his second term.
Operation Destroy Obama has entered its shock and awe phase. He hasn't saved the country after six whole months? Throw the bum out!