How Barack Obama Became Mr. Unpopular
Michael Scherer, Sept. 02, 2010, Time.com
A couple of weeks back and a dozen miles west of Elkhart, hundreds gathered in another school gym – except this time it was for a job fair. With the local unemployment rate above 12% and rising again this summer, about a third of the employer display tables stood empty. Julie Griffin, who voted for Obama in ’08, sat down at the room’s edge, well dressed and discouraged. After 23 years as a payroll administrator at a local RV plant, she got laid off 18 months ago. “Really, what has he been doing?” she said when I asked about Obama’s efforts to help people like her. “I guess I don’t know what he is doing.”
This shift in perception – from Obama as political savior to Obama as creature of Washington – can be seen elsewhere. When Obama arrived in office in January ’09, his Gallup approval rating stood at 68%, a high for a newly elected leader not seen since John Kennedy in 1961. Today Obama’s job approval has been hovering in the mid-40s, which means that at least 1 in 4 Americans has changed his or her mind. The plunge has been particularly dramatic among independents, whites and those under age 30. With midterm elections just nine weeks off, instead of the generational transformation some Democrats predicted after 2008, the President’s party teeters on the brink of a broad setback in November, including the possible loss of both houses of Congress. By a 10-point margin, people say they will vote for Republicans over Democrats in Congress, the largest such gap ever recorded by Gallup.
Democrats happen to be in a position right now of being afraid – justifiably afraid – of losing congress, and that position provides an opportunity for a large voting block to dictate to the Democrats what they must do before the election in order to to win the support of that voting block. The real unemployment rate across the country now is probably somewhere closer to 20 percent.
Perhaps Mr. Obama and his administration could try bipartisanship with liberals and independents – the people who tipped the balance in their favor in 2008 – and the nearly 20 percent of the country now unemployed for a change – instead of the delusional and completely ineffectual bipartisanship with Republicans and the right wing they’ve been pushing the past year and a half, if they want Democrats to retain a congressional majority in November.
After all, there is More Than One Truth:
It is Obama’s continued deference to the sensibilities of the financiers and his relative indifference to the suffering of ordinary people that threaten his legacy, not to mention the nation’s economic well-being. There have been more than 300,000 foreclosure filings every single month that Obama has been president, and as The New York Times editorialized, “Unfortunately, there is no evidence that the Obama administration’s efforts to address the foreclosure problem will make an appreciable dent.”
The ugly reality that only 398,198 mortgages have been modified to make the payments more reasonable can be traced to the program being based on the hope that the banks would do the right thing. While Obama continued the Bush practice of showering the banks with bailout money, he did not demand a moratorium on foreclosures or call for increasing the power of bankruptcy courts to force the banks, which created the problem, to now help distressed homeowners.
…foreclosures are behind Tuesday’s news that U.S. home sales reached their lowest point in 15 years and that there is unlikely to be an economic recovery without a dramatic turnabout in the housing market. The stock market tanked Tuesday on reports that U.S. home sales had dropped 25.5 percent below the year-ago level.