It’s taken since 2008 and two elections, but as Obama moves into his second term he is beginning to lose traction with Americans, including those who have supported him and who give him approval ratings in the fifty percent bracket.
Previous second term presidents have enjoyed comparable ratings, but they tend to plummet as events and policies overtake reality. Obama’s current poll numbers are the same as Bill Clinton’s and Ronald Reagan’s at this point in their presidencies.
Obama’s biggest problem these days is sequestration which takes effect on March 1. It is not so much the across-the-board reductions as the scare tactics the President and his surrogates have been using to get Congress to put the kibosh on it.
Democrats are afraid the cuts will eventually redound to them and Republicans are afraid they will be blamed, but, if the mainstream media begins to report more widely (and truthfully) that sequestration was an Obama proposal, his popularity will suffer. It’s a big “if”.
Think of it this way. The President and his cabinet members are shouting about Armageddon regarding a 5% cut to the rate of spending that has increased more than 17% on average during the Obama presidency.
Closing down government services as a tactic will backfire. Americans rightfully expect the meat to be inspected, the borders protected, passports to be provided, and all the other functions of government to continue. Even with sequestration, there is no reason why they should not. It is a miniscule reduction stretched out over a decade’s time. Meanwhile the cost of entitlement programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid will grow, eating into the funds available for all other domestic and defense programs.
Peggy Noonan, a columnist for The Wall Street Journal, put her finger on Obama’s growing problems. “It’s always cliffs, ceilings and looming catastrophes with Barack Obama. It is always government by freakout.” After a while, even his supporters grow weary of that and, more importantly, it creates an image in their minds that he is incompetent and either unable or unwilling to govern.
Golfing with Tiger Woods and Big Oil buddies while sequestration loomed did nothing to enhance his image. A wife that is forever hectoring Americans about every bite they eat doesn’t help either.
“Mr. Obama thrives in chaos,” wrote Noonan in a recent commentary, but noted that “so far this seems to be working fine for him”, citing a recent USA Today/Pew Research Center poll that half the respondents said it will be the Republican’s fault if the sequester went through, but rising gasoline and food prices hit people where they feel it the most and the sequester has nothing to do with either.
“Government by freakout carries a price,” said Noonan. It wears people down. It doesn’t inject a sense of energy, purpose or confidence in those who do business in America, it does the opposite.”
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