Obama Rushmore

Image by PIX-JOCKEY (Roberto Rizzato) via Flickr

For the first time in his presidency, Barack Obama's poll numbers in heavily Democratic New York have gone negative, with 49 percent disapproving of his job performance compared to only 45 percent who approve. The Quinnipiac University poll last showed the President with a 57 percent approval rating in late June, a drop of 9 points in six weeks. Among Republicans, the poll showed disapproval ratings of 86 percent, up from 74 percent in June, while among Democrats his approval rating dropped from 82 percent to 75 percent. Among independents 58 percent expressed their disapproval, up from 45 percent in June. “The evidence continues to mount,” writes Dan Weil at Newsmax.com, “that President Barack Obama's re-election bid is in trouble.”

The latest daily Presidential Tracking Poll by Rasmussen Reports confirms those results, with their Presidential Approval Index rating at  -22 approval index rating, the lowest of Obama's presidency, and down from a +22 approval index rating at the start of his presidency in 2009. Gallup tracks his job approval on a daily basis where 48 percent disapprove of his job performance, his weakest standing since December of 2009.

The deterioration in his standing also showed up in the just-released CNN/ORC Poll. In February, 2009, Obama's approval rating was 76 percent and has declined ever since. In late May of this year, his rating was 54 percent, and now, just nine weeks later, it had dropped another 10 points, to 44 percent. His disapproval rating doubled from 23 percent at the start of his presidency to 43 percent in May, and now stands at 54 percent. Even more startling was the revelation from CNN/ORC that 60 percent disapproved of how Obama was handling the unemployment problem, while 64 percent disapproved of his handling of the and the federal budget .

Even Obama's bona fides with the left are beginning to wear thin. The unquestioned mouthpiece of the liberal establishment, the New York Times, published an article by Professor Drew Westen of Emory University, entitled “What Happened to Obama?”, lamenting the dissonance between initial expectations and actual results of his presidency. Noted Westen:

The president is fond of referring to “the arc of history,” paraphrasing the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King's famous statement that “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” But with his [Obama's] deep-seated aversion to conflict and his profound failure to understand bully dynamics—in which conciliation is always the wrong course of action, because bullies perceive it as weakness and just punch harder the next time—he has broken that arc, and has likely bent it backward for at least a generation…

Barack Obama stared into the eyes of history and chose to avert his gaze. Instead of indicting the people whose recklessness wrecked the economy, he put them in charge of it. [This was] a failure…as extraordinary as the failure in judgment behind it…

The real conundrum is why the president seems so compelled to take both sides of every issue, encouraging voters to project whatever they want on him, and hoping they won't realize which hand is holding the rabbit.

The professor has been a practicing psychologist for 25 years, and is reluctant, he says, to “diagnose [Obama's problem] from a distance,” and then proceeds to do just that: It may be that the president, he says,

…is simply not up to the task by virtue of his lack of experience and a character defect that might not have been so debilitating at some other time in history. Those of us who were bewitched by his eloquence on the campaign trail chose to ignore some disquieting aspects of his biography: that he had accomplished very little before he ran for president, having never run a business or a state; that he had a singularly unremarkable career as a professor, publishing nothing in 12 years at the University of Chicago other than an autobiography; and that, before joining the United States Senate, he had voted “present” (instead of “yea” or “nay”) 130 times…

Richard Cohen, writing for the establishment  Post piled on, adding that the president “is the very personification of cognitive dissonance—the gap between what we expected of the first serious black presidential candidate, and the man he in fact is. He has next to none of the rhetorical qualities of the old-time black politicians…[I] cannot recall a soaring passage from a speech.”

The temptation to explain these liberal rants of frustration about the disappearance of the President from view was too much for Norman Podhoretz, who took the opportunity in The Wall Street Journal to note that Obama was simply being true to his original agenda, regardless of what explanations establishment writers tried to make:

We see him as a president who knows all too well what he believes. What Mr. Westen regards as an opportunistic appeal to the center we interpret as a tactic calculated to obfuscate his unshakeable strategic objective, which is to turn this country into a European-style social democracy while diminishing the leading role it has played in the world since the end of World War II.

My own answer to the question, “What Happened to Obama?” is that nothing happened to him. He is still the same anti- leftist he was before becoming our president, and it is this rather than inexperience or incompetence or weakness or stupidity that accounts for the richly deserved failure both at home and abroad of the policies stemming from that reprehensible cast of mind.

The polls show that more and more of the American people are paying attention to the Obama failures to have an opinion that reflects those failures. The fact that the establishment is also turning against him increases the likelihood that there will not be another four years of his administration.

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