The Shifting Tide

Is the tide shifting?  Maybe, maybe not...
Is the tide shifting? Maybe, maybe not...

Have you seen it?  Have you seen friends who were diehard Obama supporters in November slowly having doubts?   Have you seen moderates, who voted for a Democrat for the first time ever, now wondering what that vote has brought us?

I have.  It seems every day, I talk to another friend or family member who has growing seeds of doubt in the Obama Administration.  The reason for their change of heart is never because Mr. Obama has done anything wrong; they still love him.  But they feel the wheels of the political machine have smashed the central ideals of the Obama campaign.

The reality is that you are seeing the real Barack Obama.

This is the true, honest Barack Obama.  A pure bred liberal.  One who believes in more central control.  A man who believes higher taxes and more spending will bring prosperity.  Someone who believes that deficits are a problem for another day.  It doesn’t mean Mr. Obama is not a good or honest man; it just means that he is a good and honest liberal man.

The mainstream media is still in a fog.  Yesterday MSNBC ran a headline stating that Mr. Obama is at all-time highs in popularity.  Well, he is in only his 6th week in office; did you expect the honeymoon to end so soon?  Also, the media is not seeing this small shift in the public.  The public wants (or is the better word hopes?) Mr. Obama to succeed.  But they are losing faith in the proposals as details become available.  And we are starting to see a slow downward trend in Obama’s approval ratings, which are now below 60% in the Realclearpolitics averaged polling data.  And with unemployment now hitting 8.1%, whether Obama’s fault or not, the dissastisfaction is bound to grow.

And that is really what the public support hinges on right now.  They want to believe in something, and Mr. Obama is the only game in town.  The economy appears to be crashing all around us.   Unemployment hit a new high.  The stock market is back to 1997 LEVELS! I never would have believed five years ago that GM would be at $2 and on the verge of bankruptcy, and Citibank would be a penny stock.

And wheat is the political response to all this?  The Democratic Party looks pathetic, and the Republicans look even worse.  There is no one else to turn to.  But at the same time, the policies that this administration is putting forth is clearly the most radical since the New Deal; certainly it is even more big government than Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society.  This is not what Mr. Obama promised during the campaign.  He was a moderate that was going to change Washington.  Well, he is changing Washington, but changing it to a time three or four decades ago, when government supposedly had the answer for everything.

Look at the home foreclosure plan.  In general, this is something I support.  I think you must stabilize the housing markets if you have any hope of stabilizing banks and the credit markets.  And I think the public wants a plan to solve this problem.  But look at the polling. CNN has a poll from Quinniapac showing that 64% think the current plan is unfair; that is a supermajority.  At the same time, 55% support the plan.  Schizophrenic, you say?  Not at all.  People don’t believe in the plan intellectually, but in their heart they want and hope that some plan will work.  Intellectually, Mr. Obama is losing the public.

The Rasmussen Presidential Approval Index shows something similar.  Mr. Obama started in the low 40s at the time of the inauguration…and is around the same level now.  But his negatives slowly are rising.  Admittedly, this is largely because of defecting moderates and Republicans…but Mr. Obama needs those people if he wants to truly carry out a liberal mandate.  Also, the public is wary of new plans from Mr. Obama.  49% of people feel that health care reform should be delayed until our immediate problems are solved.  That is a large number of people that are very anxious about spending another trillion dollars when we are already digging our budget hole deeper.  I know that Ted Kennedy desperately wants a solution, but that is not a good enough reason to risk the economic health of the country

Additionally, the public is starting to the see the reality the Obama is unlikely to change much in Washington.  He has been a traditional politician, so far, serving his own supporters and interests.  Just like Bush, Obama is favoring his big money donors, like in selecting members of his Economic Recovery Advisory Board.  And of course, there is the increased scrutiny on pork and earmarks, which even his own party is fighting him on.  On Friday, the Senate had to withhold voting on a budget bill; why? Not because of Obama, but because of Republicans and Moderate Democrats.  Again, Obama has not been the agent of change.

Maybe in the grand scale of things, here is the larger problem.  The country, despite what others tell you, is still a center to center-right nation.  A Rasmussen poll last December asked this question: “Which theory of government do you favor — concentration of power in the federal government or concentration of power in the state government?”; basically, a Reagan v. Obama discussion.  About six out of ten favored states rights; Reagan era thinking.  Nobody is saying the public is looking for large scale tax cuts and government cuts, but they aren’t looking for grand scale enlargement of the federal government either.

Even the media, which I am more than happy to bash, is starting to turn. Conservatives, from David Brooks to Stuart Taylor, who had at the very least some faith in Obama, are starting to change their minds.  Paul Krugman’s Editorial on Friday blasts the Obama-Geithner plan on banks.  The Times of London has a piece basically saying Obama is gambling the entire future of the nation.  Even Steve Forbes is attacking Obama, not because he is a liberal per se, but because he is too much like Bush!  And while Democratic leaders such as John Kerry blast banks for ‘partying’ with the people’s money, Congress and the President are doing the same in the halls of Washington.  You know it is bad when Whoopi Goldberg is ranting about increased taxes.

I take it as one clear sign that the Obama side is losing the ideological fight among the public that they are trying to change the subject, a classic old political move.  In past weeks, the President, his Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, as well as his spokesman Robert Gibbs have all attacked numerous media personalities, from CNBC’s Jim Cramer and Rick Santelli, to of course the much beloved/hated Rush Limbaugh.  One has to wonder why waste their time?  They are not wasting their time.  This is a calculated political move to distract people from focusing on the central issues of the day, right now being the budget and the foreclosure plan.  Jim Cramer, who responded to the White House on Thursday, has the most important point.  Cramer admits he is an Obama supporter, but also says that the liberal shift of his policies are making it hard for him to support him.  And that, in general, is the point.  Even Obama supporters have been turned off by the Obama radicalism.

The public, all apologies to Rush, wants Obama to succeed.  They need someone to succeed.  In their hearts, they want someone, anyone, to lead them out of the perceived darkness of this recession.  And Mr. Obama is the only viable choice right now.  But there is a disconnect starting, and it is a cautionary tale for the President.  Hearts are one thing, and minds are another.  And Mr. Obama’s radical polices are starting to lose the intellectuals among us…eventually, the hearts will follow as well.

UPDATE:  Howard Fineman of Newsweek has an article this week called ‘A Turning Tide‘…think he stole it from me?  Don’t worry, Howard, mimicry is just another form of flattery.  Just make sure who wrote it first.

11 thoughts on “The Shifting Tide

  • March 5, 2009 at 7:23 pm
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    I am an average American, middle class tax paying American. It is incredibly disheartening to see the morals of this country shifting from what is right and good with this administration. The average American feels stabbed in the back by Obama and his policies. I have worked hard all of my life, I put myself through school. I pay my mortgage, I saved and am putting my children through college. I have taught my children to be responsible. Now we are all learning with Obama’s policies it only pays to be irresponsible. If you buy above your means the tax payer will be forced to pay your mortgage. If your children want to go to college and you can not provide for them and they will not work to go; don’t worry the tax payer will pay for their education. Obama talks about fiscal responsibility but he has no idea what that means. It means to work and live within your means. Do not expect others to provide for you. And most of all the successful should not be punished for their successes. I am not rich and I do not resent the rich. And while I’m at it what ever happened to truth in news reporting. Maybe you should go back to journalism 101!

  • March 5, 2009 at 11:04 pm
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    You people are crazy! Look at Wall street. People cannot retire because they have no more to retire with and all the so call rich people have run off with the money! People did not lived above their means. Everyone deserves a house and other fine things and people do work for their things.

  • March 5, 2009 at 11:26 pm
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    “Cramer admits he is an Obama supporter….”? Not what I would consider neutral phrasing. “Acknowledged”/ “verified”/ “stated” – might want to try one of those. Intellectualism, I believe, expects objectivity in reporting – it allows the reader to arrive at a considered conclusion – rather than read someone else’s.

  • March 6, 2009 at 6:03 am
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    He said he supported many of Obama’s proposals during the campaign, supports his environmental proposal, and his health care proposals. Without going into intricate detail, I felt I was being relatively accurate in the statement, and stand by the statement.

  • March 6, 2009 at 8:46 am
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    The bottom line is that unfettered, laissez-faire capitalism has failed and we need to regulate and have rules again. It is the (Reagan) Republicans that promoted this and so they are responsible for this huge mess and President Obama is going to fix it. Our infrastructure has been deteriorating for 30 years now. We have been investing in bombs and missiles and we have not been paying attention to our roads and bridges and schools and all that keeps this country running in a productive way. And President Obama is going to fix that as well. And we have a health care crisis that has not been addressed and President Obama again steps up to the plate. I think for the first time in many many years we have a president who is willing to take on these difficult tasks and I commend him and his very astute administration. It’s almost as if we now finally have adults in the White House; very smart and wise adults who can see the big picture are willing to do the hard work. The last eight years were such a disaster and you can almost say that since Reagan we have not had such people in charge of our government. I applaud them and am thankful every day for President Obama and his team.

  • March 6, 2009 at 8:53 am
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    People do deserve a decent place to live. However, they don’t “deserve” a house that’s well above their means that now I’m being made to pay for. I didn’t overspend on a home I couldn’t afford, didn’t get an interest only mortgage so I could get the house of my dreams, but now I’m paying because all these other people did.

    I don’t regret voting for Obama because I didn’t. I knew he couldn’t cure everything by saying “change”. He had no real agenda, had no real plans, but the public fell for him like he was a messiah. So, don’t bellyache about him now, you voted for him. Live with it for 4 years and vote him out. And vote all incumbent congress members out while you’re at it, since they’re giving themselves a “cost of living” raise while the majority are either out of work or aren’t getting raises at all because of economic collapse. They should be ashamed and driven on a rusty rail all the way back to their mansions in their home states.

  • March 6, 2009 at 8:55 am
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    You people that cry for socialized medicine are going to find out it’s not what it’s cracked up to be. Taxes will increase unbearably, and you’ll be waiting for appointments for months. Actually take the time to look into other countries with socialized medicine and find out the truth instead of taking Obama’s word that “it is good”. Why do you think everyone from those countries would rather come live here and pay for insurance? Check it out then come cry about it.

  • March 6, 2009 at 1:30 pm
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    President Obama has been 50 days in office trying to contain the economic tsunami that has been building up for the last 30 years — since Reagan, passing by Bush Sr., Clinton, and Bush Jr. (the worst of all). The American consumers are 70% of our economy but all the governments since 1980, (which have been conservative economically speaking) forgot that the American consumer and the American worker are the same person. All these administrations (Clinton included) had a pro-capital posture that allowed thousands of industries to migrate overseas in search of cheaper labor. Tens of millions of American jobs — good paying jobs –disappeared. At the same time, deregulation of the financial/banking sector allowed for the creation of an illusion of wealth. Many investors and consumers fell for it. The entire culture of the nation was geared toward misleading the public on the subject of what contitutes real wealth.
    By 2008 the American economy was running on the fumes speculation, borrowing, and a moribund domestic auto industry. We can not mainytain the economy of this country on just a few industries (nursing, education, and — yes — government). Our industrial base which was foolishly squandered by 4 presidents must be recovered. Our health care system must be fixed to insure all and make less expensive (the uninsured now go to ER’s which drives the cost sky high for the entire industy). You conservatives…what is wrong in your eyes with every American having access to affordable health care? Do you feel superior when some Americans suffer and die for lack of health insurance while you have it ? That is so fundamentally callous that it is hard for me to fathom human beings following such an sclerotic doctrine.
    I think that is like Lincoln said once: “you can fool all the people for some time, you can fool some people all the time, but you can not fool all the people all the time.”
    That is why the Republican party is bankrupt.

  • March 6, 2009 at 3:12 pm
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    As usual, a lot of empty anger from the Right. Criticize, criticize, criticize… but god forbid you put forth a solution. Last I heard it was more ineffective tax cuts or doing nothing and letting the market sort itself out. Amazing!

    Obama is doing a fantastic job, and I’m glad I voted for him. He promises a tax cut, delivers it (take a look at your paycheck April 1), and you guys say “well it’s not really a tax cut cause of this other stuff that DOESN’T EXIST.”

    He promises better government — not the false dichotomy of more or less, but better. I notice no one here praised him when he removed the gag rule on photos of our fallen troops. That’s less government, right? (Oh I see, it doesn’t count if it’s something you want). What about the smattering of cuts across the board from 2011 on? (Table S-2 of the proposed budget on omb.gov) All those cuts look like socialism and bigger government, don’t they? (/s)

    I see Jindal talking about how we need a new level of transparency in the government. Hello? Recovery.gov? Usaspending.gov? Budget.gov? The multiple-times-daily updated blog from the whitehouse? Even his daily schedule is posted! (He’s at Andrews Air Force base right now.) That’s pretty transparent.

    Speaking of Jindal, his speech was hilarious. He talks about the lessons of Katrina and then rails on the stimulus bill for monitoring volcanoes. The irony is astounding. I could almost picture him in a different time saying “This bill spends $8 billion dollars to upgrade the levies in New Orleans. Instead of holding back the ocean, we should be holding back the waves of spending by Congress!” Priceless.

    The Rove article you link to complains about the 8,500 “earmarks” in the continuing resolution, conveniently forgetting to mention that 40% of them are from Republicans. And, while we’re on the topic, when did the definition of an earmark change? An earmark used to be a bit of additional spending added to a bill when it was past both the House and Senate, and was undergoing the final committee compromise. The problem with earmarks was that they were after the legislative process — they never got voted on and they could be added anonymously. Any spending that goes through the legislative process is not an earmark, it’s an appropriation, because it can be voted down or amended. It’s subject to the legislative process. When did this definition suddenly change to include everything? Now an earmark seems to be any appropriation you don’t like, whether it goes through the legislative process or not.

    There’s about a billion other things I could keep correcting, but I need to go take a midterm in Spacecraft Design, cause I intend to have a job when I graduate this spring, crappy economy or not. Cheers.

  • March 6, 2009 at 5:23 pm
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    I personally have put many suggestions out there. I even previously put out a complete stimulus proposal of my own. If you want a specific proposal on a specific topic, I would be happy to respond.

  • March 6, 2009 at 6:15 pm
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    Holy guacamole! Good luck in your Midterms Michael. I learned a couple of things from your comment. Thanks

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