During the general election last year, I distinctly remember listening to Sen. Barack Obama stare straight at a starry-eyed reporter and declare that his ability to manage a campaign, considering its considerable budget, showed that he was qualified to sit as chief executive of the United States of America.
I remember thinking to myself, at the time, this guy has no clue. Even if it had been a Republican presidential candidate who said that, who literally insisted that running for president somehow qualified him to actually be president, I’d still think him insane.
It was like those books you buy at the pharmacy when you’re desperate for a last-minute gift, like Everything I Need to Know About Life I Learned From My Cat, only this time it was Everything I Need to Know About the Presidency I Learned From My Campaign.
Yet, at a meeting of supporters from “Organizing For America,” the new incarnation of his “Obama For America” group, the president defended the sharp decline in his popularity . . . by comparing it to the rollercoaster-like ups and downs of his presidential campaign. From a report by Agence France-Presse:
Obama, who has watched his poll ratings dip sharply over recent months, drew comparisons to his 2008 presidential campaign, which was several times all but written off by media experts who set prevailing political wisdom.
“We have been through this before, in Iowa,” Obama said, referring to the first state to hold a 2008 Democratic nominating contest, which saw him capture a come-from-behind win.
“All Washington said ‘Oh, it’s over,’ hand-wringing angst …”
Then Obama drew parallels to the media frenzy that greeted the nomination of firebrand Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin in 2008.
“The media was obsessed with it, cable was 24 hours a day,” Obama told a friendly audience of grass-roots Democratic activists at a Washington forum broadcast live over the web.
“‘Obama’s lost his mojo,’ you remember all that?
“There is something about August going into September where everybody in Washington gets all wee weed up!”
I find it astonishing that the president is either so arrogant or so ignorant as to miss the single-greatest distinction between a drop in poll numbers during a campaign and a drop in poll numbers during a presidency — if I may rephrase and take a little creative license with a remark made by Sarah Palin during her acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention at this time last year:
I guess being the president of the United States is sort of like being a presidential candidate, except that you have actual responsibilities.
President Barack Obama simply does not understand that the change in his approval rating, currently sinking like a doomed Russian submarine, arises from his actual job performance, from what he is and is not doing, rather than from a creative television spot aired by a rival candidate, or a good or bad final segment of a recent debate. He’s in the big leagues now, Barack Obama is, and the ebb and flow of his popularity will be a reflection of how the American people feel he is performing as president, not whether or not they’d like to see him win an election. And, right now, a growing number of Americans aren’t too thrilled. After all, what has he done right?
He still hasn’t managed to assuage the environmental socialists on the far left by passing cap-and-trade, despite having a bulletproof majority in the House and Senate. His plans for health care reform, discovered and disliked by an awakening American people, have been stymied by informed outcry among everyday concerned Americans, to the point that the Democrats are looking to pass it in reconciliation out of fears that they cannot unify their own party. And the so-called “stimulus” package has even proven to be a failure. In the six months since its passage on February 17, 2009:
- 2.8 million jobs have been lost.
- The unemployment rate has risen from 7.6 percent to 9.4 percent, despite promises from the administration that it wouldn’t top the magic number of eight.
- The number of Americans considered “long-term unemployed” (jobless for a span of 27 weeks or more) has nearly doubled, from 2.6 million to five million.
- On May 13, Vice President Joe Biden released a report detailing the effect of the American Recovery and Reinvestment act during its first 100 days, claiming that the bill had “saved or created” 150,000 jobs, and that “an additional 600,000 jobs are expected to be created or saved under the Recovery Act in the next 100 days” for a total of 750,000 jobs. The Bureau of Labor Statistics Commissioner, however, told Congress beforehand that it was “very difficult for anyone to substantiate” any such assertions from the White House – especially after Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner recently said that unemployment would likely not come down until late in 2010 and that the economy has shed 2.8 million jobs since February.
- A total of 15 states now have unemployment rates higher than 10 percent, including Alabama (10.1 percent), California (11.6 percent), Georgia (10.1 percent), Illinois (10.3 percent), Florida (10.6 percent), Indiana (10.7 percent), Kentucky (10.9 percent), Michigan (15.2 percent), Nevada (12 percent), North Carolina (11 percent), Ohio (11.1 percent), Oregon (12.2 percent), Rhode Island (12.4 percent), South Carolina (12.1 percent), and Tennessee (10.8 percent).
- A $255 million Recovery Act program intended to help struggling small businesses by providing them with 10,000 loans of up to $35,000 each, using stimulus money, has only dispersed 1,127 loans for a total of $36.8 million, according to a report by the New York Times.
- Spending of the $787 billion has “slowed to a trickle,” according to a report last week in the Washington Times, “despite President Obama’s June order to his Cabinet to speed it up. The average stimulus spending per week has dropped severely, to just $4.2 billion over the past month from $9.7 billion during the prior four months.”
- The areas that could use funds from the Recovery Act most are still clamoring for them. In fact, a report by ProPublica discovered “no relationship between where the money is going and unemployment and poverty,” and that spending of the money “is uneven and sometimes runs contrary to measures of need.”
- “Tens of thousands of unsafe or decaying bridges carrying 100 million drivers a day must wait for repairs because states are spending stimulus money on spans that are already in good shape or on easier projects like repaving roads,” according to an Associated Press piece.
- $869 billion in new debt has been added by the Democrats in Congress, on top of the $787 billion stimulus package, by Congress.
So far, the only shining stars of his presidency has been his historic inauguration, and Cash for Clunkers, the latter a shining star only because the media hasn’t done its job and explored the undesirable consequences of the program, chief among them the backlash among auto dealers stuck bearing the burden of unreimbursed out-of-pocket costs, the effect upon the auto industry in the future (the CEO of Edmunds.com predicts that auto prices will rise and sales will dry up as part of the “hangover”), and the sudden realization among a number of Americans that they cannot afford to take on a car payment where there previously was none.
Not to mention the effect that showing the administrative failure of such a high profile government program should have on the American people’s confidence in the government’s ability to operate our health care system. Obama already on several occasions made the boneheaded argument that government-run health care would be inefficiency- and problem-scarred U.S. Postal Service in a shipping industry which includes successful private enterprises like FedEx and U.P.S. — how well will public opinion of the government’s ability to handle health care fare as the horror stories of the bureaucracy of the simple $3 billion program come in from stiffed auto dealers, government workers overwhelmed with paperwork, and bankrupt American people overwhelmed with auto loans they cannot afford? Or, will Obama’s federal government simply bail them out as well?
Barack Obama is hemorrhaging popularity, with Zogby reporting his approval rating at just 45 percent, down from nearly 65 percent at his inauguration. When such dips happen during a campaign, there’s usually a reason for it — perhaps the candidate floated a racist slur from his lips, or was caught knocking up a campaign staffer while his wife fought cancer at home. When numbers plummet during a presidency, however, it’s because the American people simply do not like the job being done by the president.
Or, maybe I’m just all “wee weed up.”