Beyond the poll numbers: Obama draws strong criticism from across the political spectrum
As President Barack Obamas ratings dip below 40 percent, commentary from across the political spectrum suggests the president has managed to unite the country behind one firm conclusion — hes not doing a good job.
While Republicans and conservatives criticize the president for the national debt, the S&P downgrade and the ongoing economic problems, Democrats and progressives are criticizing the president for abandoning his values, failing to lead and focusing too much on compromise.
Heres the thing, writes Matt Miller at The Washington Post. I know tea party Republicans are behind the debt-ceiling standoff that wreaked needless damage on confidence in the United States. I know who the real villains are at this volatile moment. So why am I so mad at Barack Obama?
For Obama supporters from the center-left, the breaking point came in the form of the S&P downgrade, ongoing job woes and stock market turmoil, Miller says.
Yes, other forces may be "responsible" for the bad news, Miller writes. But in the end a president has the most power to shape the debate. Events keep screaming that the president is weak, weak, weak. That this can happen so soon after his gutsy call to take down Osama bin Laden is striking. First the president gets rolled on the debt limit. Then S&P lowers the boom. Then China piles on. Then the White House rushes out word that Tim Geithner is staying put. Can anyone explain exactly who that news was meant to reassure?
At the Huffington Post, Cenk Uygur criticizes Obama for waiting for high poll numbers before taking a stance on an issue, as well as for seeking compromise with Republicans.
Unfortunately, that is the only guiding principle Obama has — compromise. But that is no principle at all, Uygur writes. Can anyone name Obamas principles? Something he will not bend on? A progressive priority he will defend to the end?
In a column at The New York Times, Drew Westen said Obama makes makes it difficult to tell what he believes in.
The most charitable explanation is that he and his advisers have succumbed to a view of electoral success to which many Democrats succumb — that centrist voters like centrist politicians, Westen writes. A somewhat less charitable explanation is that we are a nation that is being held hostage not just by an extremist Republican party but also by a president who either does not know what he believes or is willing to take whatever position he thinks will lead to his reelection.
Chris Matthews of MSNBC also said Obamas biggest problem is his failure to lead.
If there was no tea party, what would the president want us to do? Matthews asked Sunday. What would he want us to do in terms of debt reduction? What would he cut? Would he cut? What would he do to create jobs if there was no opposition? We dont know what he wants.
The president has shown himself unwilling to just dig in on a position, Dee Dee Myers, Bill Clintons White House press secretary, told The Washington Post. Hes for jobs. Ive heard him say that. Hes for being the grown-up in the room. But beyond that, Im not actually sure what his bottom line is.
While Gallup puts Obamas current approval rating at 39 percent, other polls fail to offer much comfort. In New York, for example, Obamas approval ratings have fallen below the 50 percent mark, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released August 12. A new Siena College poll puts his New York approval rate at 36 percent. Additionally, the National Journals analysis of state-by-state approval ratings shows the possibility of Obama losing the Electoral College votes hell need to gain a second term.
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