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January 25, 2011 12:35 AM UTC

Not Jimmy Carter After All?

  • by: Colorado Pols

The Hill reports today, sure to provoke a lively debate:

President Obama hit his highest approval rating since fall of 2009, in a CNN/Opinion Research poll released Monday.

Fifty-five percent of Americans said they approve of the way Obama is handling his job, according to a poll conducted over the weekend, the first time he’s hit such a high number in that same poll since November of 2009…

The rebound comes as Obama has made a point of pivoting toward the center, and making more overtures toward Republicans in Congress. He’ll deliver his “State of the Union” address on Tuesday night, which could present an opportunity for him to cement his remade image before the public.

The thing is, most of the liberals we know never really thought Barack Obama had to “remake” a “centrist image” to begin with. They said so consistently, too, every time Obama made a compromise (or an attempt at one) that outraged the liberal base of the Democratic Party, or declared a favored Democratic policy goal unachievable. When you get right down to it, the caricature of ‘ultra-liberal Obama’ really only existed in the imaginations of his Republican adversaries, most of whom didn’t really believe it either. We’d say this thaw in Obama’s approval numbers has as much to do with hyperbole fatigue as anything else–after two years, Americans are finally realizing that Obama isn’t actually Hitler, Stalin, Castro, and Osama all rolled into one. Tom Tancredo’s Nazis-and-nuclear-war comparison is a perfect example of what we mean–the stuff just gets ridiculous after awhile, and people stop listening to you.


18 thoughts on “Not Jimmy Carter After All?

  1. The public doesn’t seem to care about Obama’s political position – they care about him getting stuff done, and getting the economy moving.

    Obama got a lot of stuff done once getting past Election Day broke some of the political logjam in D.C, and the economy is rebounding to the point where more people are starting to notice it and/or are starting to have positive feelings about it.

    When The Hill considers Obama’s rebound to be one of political re-centering, it ignores the results of most recent polls that strongly suggest the public wants more liberal and Democratic changes to government.

    1. What we want is what the American people want, it is the extreme right who has moved the “center” to the right.

      I think this post is mostly right, we just don’t like the term centrist. My mother is a perfect example. Get the conversation out of the bedroom, and that one diehard Republican is actually quite liberal!

      But my mother HATES Obama because of all the crazy chain letters she gets. If you ask her why she dislike Obama so much, she either recites something that has obliterated, or she doesn’t know why and gets emotional.

      My mother is who they manipulate.

      1. It’s kind of hard to cover all the angles of The Hill‘s mis-understanding in a short post.

        ProgressiveCowgirl addresses your point below, to which I agreed.  Obama is a centrist, has always been a centrist, and hasn’t done anything in the past couple of months to move “more to the center”, whether you define “center” as the current political center, some long-term American center, or some worldwide version of center.  He is the same person holding the same basic positions doing the same amount of work to try to get Republicans on board with his policies.

        My post was the other side of the coin.  If Obama’s poll ratings improving is a result of some imagined “re-centering” on his part, it’s not accompanied by poll results saying people want Obama to move toward the Republicans.  In fact, it’s consistently the opposite.  Polls show they view Republicans as the ones unwilling to compromise, Social Security as something to protect, and not even significant opposition to any single provision of the health care reform when asked.

  2. Hence the durm und strang when he turned out to be, as advertised, an actual centrist. Hey, I’ll admit I hoped he’d become outrageously far left as soon as he was in office. But we’ve all had to realize that the bottom line is Barack Obama is a moderate, Barack Obama will always be a moderate, Barack Obama prefers to surround himself with moderates, and Barack Obama intends to enact moderate policies.

    1. All I hoped was that he would actually listen to liberal viewpoints and be open to accepting their case on the merits.  He has shown himself unwilling to do that on any major issue, even when majority popular opinion and his own caucus favors the liberal position (DADT is important but not an issue affecting the fundamental power status-quo IMO).

      So I am bitterly resigned that we will only get incremental modifications to the status quo, even when that is not the best policy.  Better than a Republican, but so much less than what we need.      

  3. Still Carter.

    His personal approval is up because of a perception (only a perception) of some sort of tack to the middle, but look at these numbers:

    Health Care Policy

    January 21-23, 2011:



    The Economy

    January 21-23, 2011:




    January 21-23, 2011:



    Illegal immigration

    January 21-23, 2011:



    And the kicker, The Deficit

    January 21-23, 2011:



    So, he gets a bounce from his pep rally memorial speech, which was in his wheelhouse because it was supposed to be inspirational and devoid of specifics (the only kind of speech he can really nail), but the economy still sucks ass.

    We still have realistically 15% unemployment, and GDP is growing more slowly than Bilbo Baggins. Supposedly he’s going to ask for more stimulus in the SOTU tomorrow, but honestly, ask yourselves if this logic can be defeated for a majority of voters:

    If you had no idea that the first stimulus would have so little effect on the economy, why in the world would we trust you to spend more money if your team has so little grasp on cause and effect?

    There is zero reason to realistically believe in a huge leap for the economy, and if that’s the case in fall of 2012, his happy approval ratings will be back where they belong, in the toilet.

    1. …at the same stage of his Presidency.

      And we all know that Uncle Ronnie was a one-term President, forgotten by the Peoples of the Republican’t Party…..

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