Why I still REALLY like President Obama

I keep hearing President Obama’s popularity ratings are plummeting. My question is why?

On a macro scale, he’s done just about everything he promised to in the 2007-08 campaign: push healthcare reform and Wall Street regulation; restore America’s diplomatic standing in the world; take a hard line on security; jump start renewable energy; work to close Gitmo and wind down the Iraq War;  rebuild the electrical grid and get economy back on its feet.

credit: Whitehouse.gov

credit: Whitehouse.gov

To one degree or another, all of this is happening. As someone who writes about technology, I see billions of federal dollars flowing to utilities in matching grants to rebuild the nation’s electrical grid. Battery makers and electric auto projects are also being backed. Such funding is critical to national security, weaning ourselves off oil imports (does anyone care anymore?) and making the U.S. more competitive.

If he’s made political miscalculations, why would we sour on him when it’s politics and Belthway insider-ism we complain about? Bottom line: President Obama is not doing a good job. He’s doing a great job in incredibly challenging times. But he’s still learning. Did anyone honestly think the country would turn around in a year under a rookie president? Progress has been made and the country is on the right track.

People have short memories about where we were heading under the last president. Check your 401k statements from where they were a year ago. Why would anyone be for allowing insurance companies to drop sick people from their rolls? We’re still losing jobs every month, but the number is far fewer: 598,000 in January, 2009 versus  11,000 in November and 85,000 in December.

The Jan. 19 issue of  Time takes stock in the Obama Presidency  on the eve of his second State of Union speech and it’s quite favorable. More than anything, it faults him for not giving up sooner on courting most Republicans. Besides healthcare reform bogging down, “he’s done a great many other things very well.” Author Joe Klein’s biggest criticism is saved for Republicans, accusing them of “nihilism.”

They [Republicans]  demagogued nonexistent provisions of the [healthcare reform] bill.” Klein writes.

How is that working for us?

Obama told Klein that when he’d go to meet the Republican caucus to get their ideas on the stimulus package, minority leader John Boehner would release statements that the GOP would vote against such a measure before the exchange took place. The Republican leadership acts like petulant children.

A friend told me Obama’s timing is off. When Wall Street was cratering our 401ks a year ago, Obama should have gone after the banks and brokerage firms instead of pursing healthcare reform. That’s a good point. Wall St. was enemy number one, but we voters have short and selective memories.

The far right preaches morality, harps about taxes and if they don’t say so outright hopes President Obama goes down in flames. The Republican strategy is to say “no” until they are back in power. Certainly, they win on being the loudest and most vitriolic. Washington politics are so nasty that “survival is as good as it gets,” Klein writes.

The rest of us – moderate Republicans , Democrats and Independents – want to see the president succeed. And if you’re unsure about President Obama, remember what it was like under the last president.

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14 Comments

  1. Agree! He’ll tackle bank reform yet.

  2. Deborah Winders says:

    Totally agree with everything you said. I read today that what’s wrong with Obama is that he is leading with his head instead of his heart! So, what on earth did Bush lead with?? Why would any American want more of the same…the policies that got us to where we are today? The same Americans who voted for Obama should give him a fair chance! The President is doing a good job and does not deserve all the criticism he is getting.

  3. Catherine Marenghi says:

    John, Thank you for this eloquent blog. I cannot agree more. I am baffled as to why no one wants to recognize all the good this man did in his first few months in office alone. Significant progress on health care reform — direly needed — after others had struggled over this for decades. Restoring our dignity in the world by offering tolerance and respect for other cultures, an open mind, a thoughtful and intelligent voice in the world — after eight years of embarrassing and shameful bungling. I’d vote for Obama another ten terms if I could.

  4. Bruce Fryer says:

    What a year. There are still a lot of people hurting, but the answer is not “go shopping”. The status quo got disrupted across the board last year. The dust is still settling but opportunities were lost and new opportunities have been created. It’s not business as usual. And that by definition scares the hell out of a conservative. A conservative is a person with two perfectly good feet who doesn’t go anywhere. Nothing wrong with that, but as things got worse and worse, doing something is better than doing nothing.

  5. John says:

    Exactly, Deborah

  6. John says:

    Catherine, that’s why I am doing the pro-dem blog posts. One or both should be the local daily newspaper. I’m tired of the teaparty blather dominating the airwaves while dems and moderate independents sit on their collective arses.

  7. John says:

    Bruce, well put and good line: “A conservative is a person with two perfectly good feet who doesn’t go anywhere.”

  8. John Frook says:

    John, this is an excellent blog. I am solidly behind the Obama Administration. For one thing, the Rush Limbaugh I hope this administration fails comments and the shout downs at healthcare reform discussions where powerful, detrimental and unprecedented interruptions for this administration in my opinion, and buys him additional time as a result.

  9. Nancy Grant says:

    I am so glad you wrote this – I don’t understand the low ratings for Obama any more than I understand the Tea Party/Sarah Palin fervor. Those people are scaring me!

  10. John says:

    Good to see the Obama supporters come out….he is good man and a good leader and I pray he doesn’t leave office until 2016 (unless, maybe, it’s Hillary who I supported in the 2008 primary).

  11. James Brinton says:

    Well, if his strategy and insight are so potent, why is he in such a hole? 1) He is naive about Republicans–they wouldn’t give him a Band-aid on his deathbed; 2) Millions of us (including me) voted for a progressive, not a center-right President; 3) Wall Street is still unchained–Teddy Roosevelt would have busted them; 4) Health insurers are spending billions, and winning; 5) He does not lead, he takes meetings; 6) He should have done campaign finance reform before anything else.
    I give him three months to pivot on all of these issues, or his administration is road-kill.

  12. Frank Schroth says:

    Couldn’t agree more re: his drop in popularity. He has only been in office a year. I did come across this pretty smart piece by Gary Wills. Can’t help but note the Presidents recent statements about “fighting” – http://tinyurl.com/yle6r9g. Also worth noting that President Regan’s poll numbers at the end of his first year were no great shakes. I am a long way from losing hope.

  13. Taylen says:

    A beautiful display of reason and reality! It baffles me that people have such short memories and are quick to take the most recent clamoring they hear from FOX noise as the hard-line truth. I do have to say that I think there is still plenty of room for improvement in the next three (hopefully more) years, but you are right when you say he is on the right track…and we’re better off than we were under the last guy…! Back in June Bill Maher had a good monologue about President Obama saying that he liked where he was going but he wanted him to do more to actually get his nod of approval…well let’s hope 2010 is Obama’s year of action!

  14. RAGO says:

    John, couldn’t disagree with you more on this President. (No suprise to you I’m sure.) Fact is I still don’t know who this guy is–alhough I think I have a good idea.

    Is he the candidate who campaigned on change only to succumb to the Pelosi’s and Barny Frank’s of the Party and go far left. Or, by change, did he mean “fooled ya” I’m really a left radical who wants to change the social fabric of America.

    I think that by “change” most Independents and moderates thought he was going to stop the side deals, closed door meetings and try to put an end to the dealings in Washington that have plagued us the past few decades (yes Clinton and Bush(s) included. Instead, we’ve got a guy who blows with the wind based upon what he thinks the populist vote wants to hear while he clandestinely pushes a social agenda that most people don’t want.

    Case in point, does anyone really believe the content of his State of the Union address would have been the same regardless of the outcome in MA? No way. He wrote it to placate the Independent populist vote and give the appearance of moving to the center. All of a sudden he is for jobs and deficit reduction! I think not.

    The blather you are hearing is not a Tea Party. It’s an educated middle class voter who is scared to death of this guy and his cohorts running up a bill we can’t afford to pay. Yes we do want change. But it’s not the change Obama is trying to bring.

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