I think perhaps the promise to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba – a supposed symbol of American shame – and the subsequent inability to do so is symbolic of how inept, to this point, this administration has been. President Obama, while a candidate, had a guaranteed applause line each time he promised to close the facility. The left had so thoroughly demonized it that it was prime red-meat for every campaign rally. And, in fact, Obama signed an executive order on his first day in office ordering it closed.
And here we are, a year later, with the facility still open and the administration still dithering about what to do with the inmates. In the meantime, the American public has come to realize that it is the inmates that are the problem, not where the inmates are incarcerated. Closing Gitmo doesn’t solve a thing. In fact, the public realizes, it forces some very unappetizing choices – like housing those we deem to dangerous to our country to release not in some isolated prison on a island far away, but in the heartland of America.
That realization has sparked some pretty heavy push-back from the public as it has come to realize those truths:
Americans remain opposed to closing the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba and moving some of the terrorist suspects being held there to U.S. prisons: 30% favor such actions, while 64% do not. These attitudes could present a significant roadblock for President Obama at a time when he seeks congressional approval to move terrorist suspects from Guantanamo to a converted state prison in northwestern Illinois.
You see, hollering about how we had to close Gitmo during the campaign and then making it a priority on his first day of office then ran up against the “then what” question. And, as is obvious, they – the campaign and Obama- hadn’t considered the “then what” question. They had no plan. It is indicative of how poorly prepared they were to assume office (they apparently thought that the “King” would sign a “proclamation” and the “serfs” would make it so) and how little they understood of how things really work. Closing Guantanamo Bay has gone from being a symbol of “hope and change” to being an albatross around the administration’s neck. No matter what they do now, it is most likely to be unfavorably received by a majority of Americans and provide campaign fodder for a future Republican opponent.
Gitmo, in a nutshell, characterizes this administration in so many ways. Naive, unprepared, leaderless and yet arrogant. That is not a good combination for a successful presidency and unsurprisingly, so far, it hasn’t been one.
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.
According to Rasumssen, when it come to the topic global warming a majority of Americans don’t believe that to be true:
Most Americans (52%) believe that there continues to be significant disagreement within the scientific community over global warming.
While many advocates of aggressive policy responses to global warming say a consensus exists, the latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 25% of adults think most scientists agree on the topic. Twenty-three percent (23%) are not sure.
That, of course, is a direct refutation of a statement by presidential spokesman Robert Gibbs:
“I don’t think … [global warming] is quite, frankly, among most people, in dispute anymore.”
Additionally, the majority of Americans are skeptical of the efficacy of climate scientist’s data – and this is not a result of Climaquiddick:
Fifty-nine percent (59%) of Americans say it’s at least somewhat likely that some scientists have falsified research data to support their own theories and beliefs about global warming. Thirty-five percent (35%) say it’s Very Likely. Just 26% say it’s not very or not at all likely that some scientists falsified data.
This skepticism does not appear to be the result of the recent disclosure of e-mails confirming such data falsification as part of the so-called “Climategate” scandal. Just 20% of Americans say they’ve followed news reports about those e-mails Very Closely, while another 29% have followed them Somewhat Closely.
It will be interesting to see what Climaquiddick does to those numbers, especially since the scandal seems to have spread to NASA here.
Rasmussen’s poll contradicts the myths of scientific consensus or “settled science”. Additionally, it points out that not only are the majority of Americans skeptical of the science, but given the recent scandal, that percentage is likely to grow.
Meanwhile, James Delingpole updates us on the latest and greatest concerning Climaquiddick.
I guess we’re fresh out of unicorns and rainbows and claims to have improved America’s standing in the world today. As you recall, while in China and during an interview there, Obama made the claim that he had changed the world’s attitude about the US. And his claim was based on some poll which apparently reflected that.
Well given that the poll he cited was good enough for him to make the assertion then, I’d be interested in how he’d describe this poll’s results (Pew Global Attitudes survey) in probably the most important region to the US right now (remember this is a survey the left loved to deploy annually telling everyone how detrimental GW Bush was to our “image” abroad):
Now those surveys of 2009 bring findings from the world of Islam that confirm that the animus toward America has not been radically changed by the ascendancy of Mr. Obama. In the Palestinian territories, 15% have a favorable view of the U.S. while 82% have an unfavorable view. The Obama speech in Ankara didn’t seem to help in Turkey, where the favorables are 14% and those unreconciled, 69%. In Egypt, a country that’s reaped nearly 40 years of American aid, things stayed roughly the same: 27% have a favorable view of the U.S. while 70% do not. In Pakistan, a place of great consequence for American power, our standing has deteriorated: The unfavorables rose from 63% in 2008 to 68% this year.
Eventually the left is going to learn that anti-Americanism isn’t a function of who is in the White House or what party is in power. It is a deep seated resentment in which whoever is in the White House or whichever party is in power is irrelevant. They simply become the new face of the same nation the world despises. The reasons are varied and mostly irrational. The sentiment is fed by powerful internal political forces who have a vested interest in the continuation of anti-Americanism as one tool for maintaining power in their country. Such sentiment ranges from blatant anti-Americanism (Venzuela and Iran) to more subtle forms (France and Germany) but it persists whether a Republican or a Democrat is in office.
Obama’s return to reality (and hopefully the left’s) – given these numbers – should see him take a more pragmatic and nationalistic view of foreign policy than he has to this point. Words, as those numbers reflect, have failed him – and they were his greatest strength. Despite the favorable press he received as he made his world apology tour, the numbers have pretty well remained unchanged. A smart man would understand that lesson and learn from it. A leader would reorient his foreign policy when it becomes clear his first policy hasn’t achieved its goal (as if a reasonable foreign policy goal should ever be “to make others like us more”). Obviously putting the rest of the world before the US – while fine with the rest of the world – doesn’t change their perception of the US, but instead simply feeds their anti-Americanism. They do like a weaker US. But that still doesn’t mean they like the US any better.
Obama’s job -should he ever decide to take it- is to put America first in everything he does in the foreign policy arena. He’s not done that and it has not paid off for either him or the US. As I’ve said any number of times, in the anarchy that is international politics, it is much more useful to be feared and respected than to be liked. It’s time the US got back to “feared and respected”. “Liked”, as always, is a bust.
It appears as the public becomes more aware of what Congress is planning with this health care monstrosity they’re calling reform, the more reason they find to like the present system.
Forty-nine percent (49%) of voters nationwide now rate the U.S. health care system as good or excellent. That marks a steady increase from 44% at the beginning of October, 35% in May and 29% a year-and-a-half ago.
The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 27% now say the U.S. health care system is poor.
It is interesting to note that confidence in the system has improved as the debate over health care reform has moved to center stage. The latest polling shows that only 38% favor the health care legislation currently working its way through Congress.
It also shows a marked decrease in those favoring the legislation – not that such polling will stop the Democrats from continuing to ram something through. Even Howard Dean finds the current legislation troubling and declares it does nothing to control costs – one of the supposed central tenets of reform.
I’ve been saying for months that the Democrats are going to pass something called “health care reform”. They have too. Otherwise Obama’s domestic legislative agenda will be declared a failure and, ultimately, his presidency. Now I’m not so sure, given the fact that the legislation is under fire from all sides, that passage of “something” is necessarily assured. Meanwhile the latest atrocity in a government run health care system to ponder.
Time to turn up the heat and pressure to drop this awful mess. It is nothing more than a government power grab based in generational theft that does nothing to make health care better. To quote Nancy Reagan, it’s time to “just say no”.
It was inevitable (the party in power always gets blamed – eventually), but that doesn’t mean I don’t like the fact that this perfect storm may crest precisely at the 2010 midterms (although you shouldn”t count out the possibility of Republicans completely blowing the opportunity):
Nearly two years into the recession, opinion about which political party is responsible for the severe economic downturn is shifting, according to a new national poll.
A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Friday morning indicates that 38 percent of the public blames Republicans for the country’s current economic problems. That’s down 15 points from May, when 53 percent blamed the GOP. According to the poll 27 percent now blame the Democrats for the recession, up 6 points from May. Twenty-seven percent now say both parties are responsible for the economic mess.
“The bad news for the Democrats is that the number of Americans who hold the GOP exclusively responsible for the recession has been steadily falling by about two to three points per month,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. “At that rate, only a handful of voters will blame the economy on the Republicans by the time next year’s midterm elections roll around.”
I’ll say it again – gridlock is good. It has a tendency to weed out all the extremist garbage and narrows the focus of legislation greatly. It also limits the power of the President, as it should be. So I’m quite pleased with this turn of events. And as you might imagine, the “current economic problems” is code language for “jobs”. No jobs, no peace, and a tough re-election campaign from Democrats next year.
Guess who the Congress is mad at?
It’s the economy, stupid.
As an aside, speaking of tough re-elections next year, John McCain is in a statistical dead heat with a GOP primary opponent next year.
Gallup’s latest poll says it is:
President Hugo Chavez’s popularity among Venezuelans has waned in recent years. Less than half of Venezuelans (47%) in August 2009 said they approved of Chavez’ job performance — down from 61% in late 2006 when he was elected to a second six-year term.
That’s not a good sign for a
dictator “president for life”. And what’s even worse is his inability to do much about what is causing that decline but attempt to distract attention by stirring up an existential threat (Colombia).
The reasons for this decline in popularity aren’t hard to figure out. Again, Gallup:
This year, 30% of Venezuelans said economic conditions in their city or area are improving, down from 47% in 2008 and 63% in 2007. Electricity and water shortages have become frequent, and violent crime is rampant in much of the country. This year, 23% of Venezuelans said they feel safe walking alone in their areas at night, the second-lowest figure among the 67 countries in which Gallup asked the question.
Politicians, whether socialist or capitalist, are held responsible for their country’s ability to provide the basics in life – especially when in the past those basics were cheap and plentiful. And, politicians are also held responsible for providing basic security. In all areas the socialist “Bolivarian revolution” is failing. And, because of actions by Chavez over the years to nationalize many industries, Venezuelans who supported Chavez are now beginning to see his government as more of a threat to them:
Conversely, concern about the heavy hand Chavez has demonstrated in the recent wave of nationalizations may be growing. The proportion of Venezuelans who said people in the country can feel very confident their private property will be respected by the government has dropped to 40% this year, from 52% in 2007. And 44% of Venezuelans currently agree that life is very hard for those who oppose the government, up from 36% in 2008.
As Megan McArdle points out, Chavez was able to paper over much of this when the price of oil was high and revenue plentiful, but at the present price and faced with the fact that because he diverted money from the state run oil company PDVSA to fund social programs, his golden goose is on life support. And Chavez has been forced to impose some unpopular restrictions:
President Hugo Chávez has been facing a public outcry in recent weeks over power failures that, after six nationwide blackouts in the last two years, are cutting electricity for hours each day in rural areas and in industrial cities like Valencia and Ciudad Guayana. Now, water rationing has been introduced here in the capital.
The deterioration of services is perplexing to many here, especially because the country had grown used to cheap, plentiful electricity and water in recent decades. But even as the oil boom was enriching his government and Mr. Chávez asserted greater control over utilities and other industries in this decade, public services seemed only to decay, adding to residents’ frustrations.
With oil revenues declining and the economy slowing, the shortages may have no quick fixes in sight. The government announced some emergency measures this week, including limits on imports of air-conditioning systems, rate increases for consumers of large amounts of power and the building of new gas-fired power plants, which would not be completed until the middle of the next decade.
Combine that with growing food shortages and rampant inflation and the picture is not pretty for our boy Hugo. And while his popularity remains slightly north of the critical 50% mark, his job approval rating of 46% portends a fall for that as well. Chavez, like all socialists, is finding out the hard way that they call them the laws of economics for a reason. You just wonder if we’ll learn something from his inevitable decline.
Right now, if you believe the final Public Policy Polling surveys in New Jersey and New York’s 23rd Congressional district, it looks like wins for the right side of the ideological curve.
In NY-23, PPP has Hoffman at 51%, Owens at 34% and Scozzafava – the GOP’s favored nominee – at 11%. So the insurgent conservative candidate who the GOP is now quite happy to claim, is pulling a majority in the district. Head to head, PPP has Hoffman at 51% and Owens at 38%. The former GOP candidate has chosen to act as conservatives thought she would – she’s endorsed the candidate which most closely matches her politics – the Democrat. Joe Biden will be in the district today to try and push Owen’s numbers up.
“Polling the race was a little haphazard in a weekend with many twists and turns but Hoffman showed a similar lead at all junctures… The bottom line though is that Hoffman led by double digits during every segment of the poll, an indication that he may have been headed for a definitive victory regardless of Scozzafava’s actions over the course of the weekend.”
In the NJ governor’s race, PPP has Christie at 47%, Corzine at 41% and Daggett at 11%.
PPP points out that in NJ, the difference is independents going over to Christie’s side in a big way:
“Christie’s advantage is due largely to his support from independents and because he has Republicans more unified around him than the Democrats are around Corzine. Christie leads Corzine 52-29 with indies, as Daggett’s support with that group has declined to 16%. Christie is getting 82% of Republicans to Corzine’s 72% of Democrats.”
Of course this is NJ we’re talking about and 6% would seem to be a pretty significant lead, but there are factions at work which will most likely do whatever is necessary to overcome that. But the defection of independents to the Republican candidate has to worry Democrats.
And I’d guess that what is happening in the VA Governor’s race is much the same as what is being seen in NJ – McDonald leads Deeds mostly because of a more unified Republican base and the defection of Independents.
Should all 3 go to the Republicans, it will be very interesting to see the spin – from both sides. Democrats will most likely downplay the significance while privately being very concerned with 2010 right around the corner. And Republicans will most likely misread the results as some sort of mandate for them and their “big tent” compromising ways.
Suffice it to say these are 3 specials that I’ll actually be interested in following tomorrow, if for no other reason than to hear the establishment party types on both sides explain what happened.
The Washington Post has a new poll out in which they declare that two of the most controversial aspects of the health care reform legislation working its way through Congress now enjoy majority approval. Those are the public option and the insurance mandate that requires everyone get insurance.
But I have a sneaking suspicion that much of the support for the public option is based more on a fantasy than reality. I think that a majority, if there truly is one, have bought into the talking points of “choice and competition.” Neither will exist once the public option, as envisioned by Congress, is actually in place. What leads me to believe that’s the case is this sentence later in the WaPo story:
Independents and senior citizens, two groups crucial to the debate, have warmed to the idea of a public option, and are particularly supportive if it would be administered by the states and limited to those without access to affordable private coverage.
Essentially what that describes is Medicaid – not a public option. Medicaid is administered by the states. Of course removing restrictions which prohibit insurance companies from selling across state lines and removing state mandates which drive up the overall cost of a policy would most likely provide “affordable private coverage”. But as usual those provisions have been rejected by Democrats writing the legislation even though they’ve been brought up repeatedly by Republicans.
Now I don’t equate Medicaid with the “public option” that I’ve heard politicians talk about.
Interestingly, deeper in the story and after trumpeting a “majority” now backing the public option, the Post says:
Overall, 45 percent of Americans favor the broad outlines of the proposals now moving in Congress, while 48 percent are opposed, about the same division that existed in August, at the height of angry town hall meetings over health-care reform. Seven in 10 Democrats back the plan, while almost nine in 10 Republicans oppose it. Independents divide 52 percent against, 42 percent in favor of the legislation.
In other words, the headline could have just as easily been “Majority still opposes health care reform” and/or “Majority of Independents Not In Favor Of Health Care Legislation”.
Instead we get “Public Option Gains Support”. That’s really irrelevant if the total bill is seen as unacceptable not to mention the numbers of opposed vs. those in favor haven’t changed since August.
But then, it all depends on how you want to spin something, doesn’t it?
Along with his credibility. When the House bill on health care (H 3200) came out, anyone who read the bill, to include Republicans, noted that it planned to pay for much of what was offered through Medicare cuts. And, in speeches and talks following that, President Obama said that he wanted to “end subsidies” to Medicare Advantage, a Medicare supplemental program very popular with those using Medicare (because it covers what Medicare doesn’t).
Even the CBO has come out, as noted yesterday, and said what President Obama is talking about when it comes to Medicare will cut the level of benefits for Medicare users.
Be that as it may, and as he has in many things, he claims everyone else is wrong, he’s right and those disagreeing with him are simply doing it for political purposes. In talking points distributed by the White House today, they say:
Talking Points: Republicans’ Disingenuous Scare Tactics on Medicare
• Recently, as part of an ongoing effort to revive their political fortunes by killing health insurance reform, many Republicans have been attempting to scare America’s seniors with false myths about what reform would mean for Medicare.
• These distortions and outright falsehoods would be offensive under any circumstances, but they’re especially disingenuous coming from a group who has a long history of opposing Medicare and who very recently tried to kill the program as we know it.
• Just this past April, nearly four-fifths of Republican House members voted to end Medicare as we know it by turning it into a voucher program that provides a fixed sum of money to buy private insurance.
• And this most recent assault on Medicare is just the latest in a war Republicans have been waging on the program for decades.
They also attempt to spin away the CBO finding that benefits will indeed be cut and they further attempt to justify the Medicare Advantage cuts.
But this just isn’t selling to those at whom it’s aimed.
Gallup reports that seniors 65 and older are the demographic with the largest percentage against the reform being offered. By a margin of 10% (42% to 32%) they oppose it.
I think it is pretty safe to say that seniors, at this point, don’t trust the Democrats and certainly aren’t now going to buy into the old “Republicans are using scare tactics” canard. Nor are seniors going to be mollified by claims that Medicare Advantage “overcharges” and therefore should be eliminated.
I’ve talked about the erosion of independent support for the administration and Democrats in general. If the Democrats want to ensure a minority in the Congress in 2010, continue to alienate the seniors as they are presently doing and they’ll get their desire. And that might also mean 2012 won’t be looking so hot for them either.
This is a demographic which knows their issues (especially health care) and votes them. Screw with this program (and yeah it’s ironic that we’re talking about leaving a government program alone, but again, since they don’t have a choice, that says nothing about its quality or efficiency) and you can almost bet the house (pun intended) that 2010 will find a new majority in one of the chambers of Congress.