Free Markets, Free People

Obama: Lack Of Leadership And Accomplishment Beginning To Take Their Toll

An ABC News/Washington Post poll has some poll numbers which has to have the Obama White House concerned:

Fifty percent of Americans in this ABC News/Washington Post poll approve of the president’s work overall, down 6 points in the last month; nearly as many, 46 percent, now disapprove. On the economy, 52 percent disapprove, a majority for the first time. On the deficit, his worst score, 56 percent disapprove.

Such numbers aren’t unexpected; Ronald Reagan, in similar economic straits, dropped to 52 percent overall approval at this point in his presidency. But it’s not just the economy: Fifty-three percent also disapprove of Obama’s work on health care, and the public by 51-44 percent now opposes the reform package in Congress – both more than half for the first time in ABC/Post polls.

Despite the attempt to temper the plunge in approval by claiming that Ronald Regan had similar numbers in overall approval, this doesn’t feel like the Ronald Regan era. In fact, it feels more like Regan’s predecessor’s era of governance – leaderless. If Obama shows up on TV in a sweater telling us to turn down the thermostat, you’ll know precisely who I’m talking about.

But consider that in just a month in which he made his Afghanistan speech (which supposedly gave him a small bounce) and accepted his Nobel Peace Prize, he managed to lose 6 points in approval. The approval rating speaks to an overall feeling of satisfaction with his performance. And, as has been asked ad nauseum, he can give a pretty speech, but what has he really done?

Now this is a double edged sword. Frankly I don’t want him to do what he’s said he wants to do so technically I should be approving of his job performance. As long as he stays ineffective and impotent, I “approve”. Which means, some of his disapproval comes from those who want to push the aggressive “progressive” agenda they believe he’s behind and are disapproving of the fact that nothing has been done in almost a year of complete power in Congress and the White House.

The point, of course, is to note that his “disapproval” rating is just as soft as his “approval” rating and could change in a heartbeat. But this is an interesting snap shot that I think says more about his leadership, or lack thereof, than anything.

Economically, the numbers may be a little harder than the overall approval rating. You don’t have to be a PhD to know that economically things aren’t good and despite all the happy talk, really aren’t getting much better. So 52% disapproval isn’t unexpected. But, with the dip in his personal approval rating, it indicates that the public is beginning to hold him responsible for the condition of the economy. The drop in approval and the majority disapproval on the economy signal that Democrats and Obama no longer have George Bush as a convenient fall guy.

Another reason for that is found in the “deficit” number, where 56% disapprove. That number is strictly and obviously a product of Democrats in Congress and the Obama administration. 787 billion “stimulus”. 1+ trillion omnibus spending bill. Raising the debt ceiling by 1.8 trillion. All Democrats, all the time.

His lack of leadership has also had an effect legislatively (although obviously the in-fighting among Democrats hasn’t helped their case either) where a majority oppose Obama’s overall health care effort and the specific health care legislation Democrats are trying desperately to push through Congress as we speak.

This could all change within a few weeks or months. But I just don’t see it happening. Some people know how to lead. Others know how to build coalitions. And others know how to charm their way into positions of power. Essentially Barack Obama is a charmer who recognized a once in a life time opportunity where the stars lined up for someone like him to grab for the brass ring of the presidency without having to have any other qualification than meeting the age requirement in the Constitution. He took it and he won. And that says something about both him and the celebrity worshiping public that elected him, which is a subject for another post.

As someone who has been in leadership positions all my life and has professionally assessed leaders for over 20 years, I can say without equivocation, that Barack Obama is not a leader. At best he’s a coalition builder and he’s been rather poor at that as well. However he’s a man who has always reached for the next rung in the ladder and obviously enjoys the trappings and perks of the offices he holds. But again, looking back on his life, what has he really done? What has he really ever accomplished? What has he led?

To some, I’m sure, these numbers come as a surprise. I’m not sure how. They are, to me, a portrait of the person those of us who kept noting his lack of experience and accomplishment painted before the election. I expect the numbers to go down even more. He’s not a leader and I don’t expect one to emerge while he’s in office. I certainly hope the nation wakes up and recognized that “hope and change” were really “hoax and change” and make the man a one-term president. We can’t afford him, in many ways, for 8 years.



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18 Responses to Obama: Lack Of Leadership And Accomplishment Beginning To Take Their Toll

  • The more Obama speechifies, the harder it is for him to blame Bush. Americans are now accustomed to thinking of Obama as president. Bush is old news.

    Blaming Bush is about to cross (if it hasn’t already) into whining territory. I think that’s where some of his sagging in the polls comes from.

  • McQ – … some of his disapproval comes from those who want to push the aggressive “progressive” agenda they believe he’s behind and are disapproving of the fact that nothing has been done in almost a year of complete power in Congress and the White House.

    I suggest that the poll numbers, while dismal, are not so bad for Imeme as one might think.  All those “progressives” (why don’t we call them “liberals” anymore?) who don’t like his failure to bring about a dictatorship of the proletariate as fast as they thought he would: where else will they go?  They might not “approve” of the job he’s doing, but they will ultimately continue to support him and his odious party.

    O’ course, the same might be said about people like me who don’t approve of Imeme despite his his failure to collectivize the entire country: unless he has a Road to Damanscus moment and magically becomes much more conservative, he will likely NEVER get my support and I will ALWAYS disapprove.  So, there are two blocks of voters Imeme hasn’t got to worry about: those he can hardly lose and those he can hardly win.  That leaves the squishy middle who can change from approval to disapproval and back again in the span of a few days depending on what MiniTru tells them to believe.

    McQ… I can say without equivocation, that Barack Obama is not a leader. At best he’s a coalition builder and he’s been rather poor at that as well.

    He’s not a coalition builder at all.  I recall him boasting back before the election how his great skill is getting people in a room to talk to each other and reach consensus.  As we’ve seen over and over again, this clown can’t even get the members of his own party to agree to things.  Judging by his behavior toward Wall Street bankers and investors, the heads of GM and Chrysler, the GOP minority, and the people of Honduras, Imeme is a garden-variety bully: he is successful only when he holds power and can TELL people what they will do.  If they have any will or power to resist, he collapses into helplessness.

    Imeme is exactly what many of us said from the beginning: an arrogant, inexperienced fool with no real experience or skills outside mouthing platitudes for the camera (and he needs a teleprompter to help him do that).

    • why don’t we call them “liberals” anymore?
      Because “liberals” have a open-mind, but “progressives” don’t

  • I have five bucks that once he leaves office he’s going to try for UN President.

  • Obama has excelled in only one area in his professional life – and that is by being PRESENT.  For most of his history he did not need to do much more than show up. 

    As the editor of the Harvard Law Review, a title that many point to as a great achievement unto itself, I would suggest that he enterred the record books for two reasons.  The first for being the first Black to occupy that arguably prestigious position.  And the second for being the first editor in the history of the Harvard Law Review to not publish a single opinion.  His accomplishment here – he was Present.

    As a community organizer, he allowed himself to be led by the powers of the Chicago politburo.  Even his tenure on various community groups, he was not the power of the organization but one of the board members.  Accomplishments?  None listed.  Once again he was Present.

    As a Constitutional Law Professor, another position highly touted by his supporters, he produced not one single opinion.  In an arena where to publish is to breathe, he published not one single paper or even collaborated on another’s piece of paper.  Present once again.

    As a Illinois legislator, he found himself in a Democratically dominated political structure, where even what little bi-partisan powers he may have were not challenged – they did not need to be challenged, he was part of the party in charge.  And even in this arena, he distinguished himself by voting Present over 130 times.

    And then as a US Senator representing the great state of Illinois, can anyone show me a single piece of legislation bearing his name to accound for the 150 days he served prior to his announcement of his running for the Presidency?  Here I can argue that he wasn’t even Present, he missed some 65% of the votes taken in his tenure because he was too busy running for President.

    And now there rises the question of his Leadership as President?  That is a quality that I can safely say has benn Not Observed for his entire history.  And now people are surprised they have a President who is challenged by the need to be a leader?  He is doing well doing what he has always done – He Is Present!

    (PS – It took the world two years to discover the same problem with Carter.  And then the sh*t hit the fan.  Can the sh*tstorm be too far into the future for this empty suit?)

  • This is what happens when you elect a no-experienced, naïve, untalented little politician from Illinois who had done absolutely nothing in his life, was elected to the US Senate based on a speech at a political convention, does nothing in the US Senate for 2 years, then runs for President on a simple call for “hope and change.”

    How much could I have bet last November that this whole house of cards would collapse? My only question was: how long? I guessed by mid-2010; never did I think that people would be mocking The Clown™ less than a year after his vaunted election.

    But for The Clown™, the cat is out of the bag, and no matter how much polish you apply to a turd, in the end it is still a turd.

    I have an idea: since Howard “Aaaarrrgggg!” Dean is so against this death care crappola, maybe we should all go on liberal websites, acting like real Socialists (I know: it ain’t easy to fake), and push for a Howard Dean challenge to The Clown™ in 2012! Maybe enough liberals will go along with this idea. It can’t hurt!

  • He can still salvage this. The dilemma is, does he follow his heart or his head. Bill Clinton was practical enough to realize that where he was going, nobody was following. So, he changed his goals and adopted new tactics. Even though he never said so, he took a page from the Reagan playbook and started taking half a loaf, rather than none. (Reagan used this metaphor with his staff more than once, his idea was you can always go back and ask for more)
    President Obama could follow the Carter path if he insists that he is right and everyone else is wrong. But I sense that he will evolve more like Clinton. Carter was adamant about his solutions. He did not work with Congress very much and was reluctant to admit failure. His outlook became very clear after the infamous malaise speech, even though he never used that word.
    But I do agree, the guy has demonstrated no leadership at all. A good leader would have said, Here’s my principles, here’s my goals. What does it take to make a deal? Instead he has unsuccessfully outsourced everything to the radical left wing of Congress.

    • “But I sense that he will evolve more like Clinton.”

      Upon what do you base this?  Wishful thinking?  Look ahead to 2011, after the midterm elections.  Even if the Democrats are able to maintain control of both houses, their super-majority is bound to have evaporated.  How does Obama govern now?

      He can no longer just sit back and put his feet up and pass the ball to Pelosi and Reid.  Even if Pelosi is able to maintain the Democratic majority in the house, she will have a considerable number of her herd running scared for 2012.  She and Obama will have to operate in a manner that neither has shown any inclination to do so in their lives – in a bipartisan approach to governance.

      Even though it is far less likely for the Democrats to lose control of the Senate, there is a good chance that Reid will not survive and their 60 member caucus will surely have shrunk.  Who now will step up and take the helm as Majority Leader and what are his/her credentials for leadership – Schumer?  Durbin?  Good luck with that bi-partisan thingee in the Senate.

      I don’t think it is the difference between using his head or his heart.  It is not a case of “will he operate in a bipartisan way” but “can he”!  We have never seen any evidence of it in his past – so it is impossible to project his ability to do so in the future.  I think it will be determined by how much of his agenda he is willing to concede to the center and the Republicans.  And for a person as self-centered as he is, I think he is far more likely to break rather than to bend.

      • It’s a guess.
        I think he’s intelligent enough to come to the realization at some point that what he’s doing isn’t working. Then he has to choose, Carter or Clinton.
        He’s a big enough egotist that he won’t want to be remembered as Jimmy Jr.

      • SShiellHe can no longer just sit back and put his feet up and pass the ball to Pelosi and Reid.  Even if Pelosi is able to maintain the Democratic majority in the house, she will have a considerable number of her herd running scared for 2012. 

        This raises an interesting question.  We have been talking about what a GOPmajority – or even large minorities – in the Congress might mean for Imeme after 2010.  What will it mean for SanFran Nan and whoever will lead the dems in the Senate? (Unless the poll numbers are grossly wrong, an evil miracle occurs, or the dems cheat on a scale heretofore unseen, Reid is a goner in the next election).

        Will Nancy keep her filthy hands on the gavel?  Will the dems in the Senate leave lib idealogues like Turban Durbin or Trashcan Chuckie in charge?  Or will the rank and file look at what’s happened to them with hard lefties in charge and push for more moderate leadership?  As I recall, there were rumblings that Nancy would be replaced by Hoyer after her wild, Queeg-like accusations against the CIA, though that ultimately didn’t happen.

        Honestly, a GOP majority or even more moderate democrat leadership in Congress would be the best thing that could happen to Imeme: it might FORCE him to govern more from the center.

        Unless he’s really as arrogant and stupid as I think, in which case “Obama” will replace “Carter” as a synonym for presidential failure.

        We shall see.

  • Not to mention the toll on his Party …

    House Democrats’ long-simmering frustration with the slow pace of the Senate has begun to boil over, with a broad swath of Democratic representatives accusing their Senate colleagues of failing both their party and their country.

    … and they haven’t even gotten to conference yet.

  • The Obamessiah is actually doing a fantastic job.  It’s just that the job he is doing is destructive.

  • I should tell you folks that Charlie Cook has just listed his 2010 prospects, and he has only 218 “safe” seats for the Demmies in next year’s election.
    Remember that 218 is a tie for the majority.
    And if a party with 255 seats has only 218 “safe” seats now, when things are moderately bad, how will thinks look when the election gets closer?
    I am still holding on to my prediction that the GOP picks up anywhere from 45-65 seats. Sure that is a wide swath to count on, but as things get closer I believe it will lean more to the 65 and less to the 45. Of course, either 45 on the low side, or 65+ on the high side means Nancy Pelosi is finished as Speaker.
    And Obama will be finished as President. And that means, dear folks, that next November could be spelling the end of the reign of The Clown™.

  • This is fast becoming Obama’s role on the world stage: managing disappointment. The gap between what international opinion demands of him and what he can deliver widens with each passing month, and it falls to him to explain why.

  • This decline from a WaPo polling effort???  Think what B Hussein’s numbers would be if they didn’t horribly oversample Democratic voters for their polls! 

    I’m guessing the REAL numbers of those with negative opinions and dissatisfaction is at least five points higher than this “poll” shows.

  • Every Generation needs a Carter of it’s own.