Friday, August 20, 2010

Here, The People Rule

Disapproval of Obama's job as president has now reached a majority. As a Democrat, that disappoints me. But I also find myself frustrated with the American public. Through my admitted Koolaid-tinted lens, I see in Obama a president who has fulfilled his campaign promised to a degree unprecedented in my lifetime. The stimulus legislation, healthcare reform, financial services reform, etc., etc. were all policies he promised to enact in the campaign and he did it. In today's Washington post Eugene Robinson outlines some recent accomplished that have gone all but unnoticed.   During the campaign, he was considered a great communicator, the second coming of Ronald Reagan.   But he doesn't seem to be able to communicate effectively as president, as evidenced by the chart above.

Of course, the real reason he's suffering in the polls is the economy, pure and simple.  One enormous blunder his administration committed at the outset was to dramatically underestemate the depths of the recession.  He gave his opponents a powerful talking point when his people promised that the stimulus would bring unemployment under 8%, a goal that some suggest will not beached in his entire first term.  Even without that blunder, however, people's opinions are formed by the reality they confront.  It is clear, that no accomplishment by a president can overcome a persistent 9% unemployment rate.  So, it's not about communication and its not about legislative accomplishments, it's about results.  I guess that's the way it should be.

I took some comfort from a biography that I'm reading about Lyndon Johnson by Charles Peters.  It describes the election of 1946, the one right after a Democratic president and a Democratic Congress presided over victory in World War II.  In that election, Republicans took majorities in both Houses.  It was around that time that the British voters ousted Winston Churchill.

In the end, frustrated as I might be, if the people rule, the people rule, for better or for worse.  To cite an overused quote from the aforementioned Winston Churchill (probably uttered after his defeat), "Democracy is the worst form of government, except all the others that have been tried."