Obama: What a difference a year makes

(CCU Student) On February 10 2009, President Barack Obama’s approval rating peaked at a healthy 65.5%. The man seemed politically invulnerable with both houses under his party’s control and almost two out of three people in the country approving of the direction Obama was going to take the country. Throughout the course of 2009, Obama’s approval rating has been steadily declining and currently stands in most polls at around 50%. As the 2010-midterm elections approach, many political commentators are expecting a repeat of the 1994 election where the Republicans won major victories in both the House and the Senate, essentially a complete turnaround of the 2008 elections.

Surely, most everyone expects Obama’s approval rating to decline somewhat after the typical honeymoon period was over, but to the point where there is a realistic possibility of the Republicans who only a year ago were cast out of Washington would make a full recovery if not come out stronger then in 2008? What happened? The answer is in how Barack Obama has been conducting his administration. He has become a victim of his own successes and at the same time, extremely indecisive on many main issues.

Whether or not one agrees with his policies, Barack Obama had resounding success in passing legislation, especially at the beginning of the year. In his first 100 days, he was able to pass a stimulus bill that, at the time, cost more than the entire Iraq war with little opposition. In April, America was projected to run budget deficits that ran around $1.4 trillion dollars and there with relatively little resistance to this major increase in spending. Barak Obama has also succeeded in passing a bill that would increase the amount of troops in Afghanistan by 30,000. Now he is working on an overhaul of the entire American healthcare system, not bad for a president who has only been in office for a year.

So why has his approval rating gone down? Obama has simply become a victim of his own success. He has been successful in everything he has put serious effort into, with the possible exception of his healthcare program (which still may pass but it has not been easy). Yet the problems of recession, Afghanistan, and many other issues seem to be just getting worse. Who are the American people going to blame other than the man who promised economic recovery and the withdrawal of troops from Middle East battlefields? Many Americans are irritated that the problems of America cannot be solved quickly. Above all, it seems Obama has frustrated almost everybody, people from every political faction. He frustrated those who voted for him by not solving the economic crisis quickly and by agreeing to the troop increase in Afghanistan, and to the left he has not done nearly enough to fulfill his massive agenda he entered the White House with (he still has yet to address the issues of environmental change, gay rights, the education system, and NAFTA). Economic conservatives feel that this out of control spending is going to hurt us in the long run and this ongoing healthcare battle is upsetting everyone. On top of all this, he has been indecisive on just about every major issue presented to him.

Granted, Obama has only held office for a year, but the man who came into office with the intention of change has been somewhat hesitant on how this change is going to be accomplished. On the healthcare battle issue, Obama has said relatively little about the details of healthcare reform, but has been expending tremendous political capital in passing this bill that is currently held up in Congress. When the media asks him directly about public option, he seems to waver one day saying that the bill must have a public option, and the next day stating it is not a necessity. Same story with the situation in Afghanistan. To his credit, Obama eventually did commit the troops requested by his generals; however, it took him almost three months to come to this conclusion. The trend in his administration seems to consist of setting broad goals and, even if these goals are not met, coming up with some sort of legislation that merely represents change. Americans are starting to realize this and even people who traditionally vote Democratic are starting to get dissatisfied with his lack of resolve on issues (for example, the gay community, and Obama’s apparent lack of results for the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy in the armed forces and gay marriage.)

Lastly, Americans are starting to get sick of hearing how every problem in America is a result of the Bush Administration actions rather than the policies passed by the Obama Administration. The wars in the Middle East, economic recession, global warming all are Bush’s fault. While there may be some legitimacy to these claims, people the public is getting fed up with hearing about how these problems are not Obama’s fault but Bush’s. The longer his administration is in power, the truer this will become.

A 50% approval rating hardly indicates the fall of the Obama administration. However, the man who was seemingly politically unstoppable at the beginning of the year has been shown to be mortal. He has alienated both the left and the right by doing what seems to be everything wrong to the right and not enough action to the left.

Americans are also starting to realize that the man who promised to reform Washington is starting to become tired and indecisive while blaming the past administration for his problems. Whether or not the Republicans are triumphant in the 2010-midterm election only time will tell, but the fact that it is even a possibility shows how far Obama’s image has fallen.

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