Two Presidents and New Polls

President Barack Obama’s poll numbers have been in the news recently.  Apparently, a majority of Americans have lost faith in the President’s ability to deal with the problems that trouble them.  The not-so-bad news for the President is that people have even less faith in Congress, so comparatively speaking, he stills look pretty good.  Of course, Americans typically have a low opinion of Congress, and President Obama used to have high approval ratings, which means things could be much better than they are.

Some interesting news regarding the President is the recent perception that he is, as they said about the first Bush and Reagan, trying to serve somebody else’s third term.  In Obama’s case, it’s Bill Clinton’s.  In fact Obama, who has surrounded himself with Clintonistas, met with Bill Clinton recently, and has talked of having the ex-President campaign for Democrats in the fall.

President Obama’s decline in popularity is not hard to figure out.  His earliest approval ratings were so high they would have been difficult for anyone to sustain.  He has thrown himself behind policies that polls show are unpopular with the majority, most notably health care reform and his attack on Arizona’s crackdown on illegal aliens.  Meanwhile, unemployment, currently at 9.5%, has stayed bad for a long time.  Plus, the oil spill in the Gulf has been devastating, and it’s not like the war in Afghanistan is getting more popular over time.

Two thoughts on all of this:

One, perspective is an interesting thing.  If you don’t like a President’s policies and the majority agrees with you, you might be apt to question the President’s brains and/or patriotism.  If you do like a President’s policies, but the majority disagrees with you, you might think the President is a statesman who puts principles before polls.  Either way, the President is swimming against the stream, but your perceptions of him might differ drastically.

Two, the President’s sudden embracing of Bill Clinton is a dangerous game.  It might energize the conservative base even more (if that is possible).  At the same time, the liberal base might be turned off.  If liberals had really wanted more of Clinton then they would have voted for Hillary in 2008.  However, Bill Clinton might help President Obama with moderates/independents.

Interesting times.