Obama on the Political Fence

I always get yelled at for being an Obama apologist, and after writing this article it’s not going to be any different. CNN came out with a poll that was conducted over the weekend that had President Obama’s approval rating at 44% with 54% disapproving of his job performance. But seeing who is disapproving of the President is telling, and shows us the type of voters Obama need to reach in order to win reelection in 2012.

Having commented on liberal blogs, I try and reason with those who say the President is trying to take away their health care, or Social Security. Of course this isn’t true and is actually what Republicans would like you to think so liberals stay home on election day. Fortunately most liberals don’t believe the hype.

In the CNN poll it showed while most people aren’t thrilled with Obama, he still has strong support with liberals (70%) and Democrats (77%). Among people who said they disapprove with Obama’s performance, only 16% said it was because he was not liberal enough. That it is a seven point jump from May, but not enough to cause serious panic for Obama’s prospects in 2012. Those are the people who Ralph Nader attracted when he ran for President. No matter what Obama does they will never be happy with him. In 2012 they will either stay home, or vote for him because they don’t want to take the risk of having another President like George W. Bush.

Not surprisingly it’s the exact opposite for conservatives. 87% of those who identified themselves with the Tea Party disapproved of the way Obama was handling his job. Virtually the same amount of Conservatives disapproved at 79%, and Republican’s at 88%. Again, they were never going to vote for Obama just on general principle.

What concerns me about these numbers is with the Independent and Moderate voters. Just 36% of Independents approve of the way Obama was handling his job. They don’t have a political affiliation, don’t believe one party is better than the other, but they are politically active. They will be voting in 2012 and even though they take forever to make up their mind, they are paying attention. While people who said they were moderate gave Obama a 54% approval rating, these voters are less likely to go out and vote.

There has been some good analysis by smart people recently. The first by Stanley Greenberg who argued Democrats need to start talking about jobs. The other by Drew Westin who said the President needs to stop telling people what he’s doing and show them. Greenberg’s argument is so obvious I’m not going to bother to say why. But Westin has a more interesting one. He’s arguing that now that Obama has been on the podium more recently, he needs to start doing a better job describing his policies. Most political scientists don’t think it’s that big of a deal and point out not everything he describes in his piece is correct.

Even so I think it still has merit. We can all agree Obama was not exactly screaming what he wanted during his first two years in office. It annoyed the hell out of me because he should have been more active to get his policies achieved. Even though he’s done a lot of good, I can’t help thinking he could have done more. He has even admitted during town halls that he should have done a better job explaining his policies more so people actually know what he has done for them.

But he does have to explain those policies in the right way. As the leader of a country he needs to have a vision of where he wants to take it and be able to explain it to the American people what that vision is. I was happy to hear the President say on Monday that he would be recommending policies to the Super Committee that will be formed to reduce the nation’s deficit. Even though it won’t result in any short term spending, Obama is showing he has ideas that he believes will fix the country and move it forward. That’s what people want out of him. Not rhetoric, but ideas. Change was a good slogan during a campaign during frantic times, and while out of office he wasn’t held to as high of a standard. They assumed he knew what he was doing and had ideas on how to fix the economy. But he didn’t even propose his own health care bill, even though it’s more popular title is now Obamacare.

Maybe he’s learned that as President whatever comes out of Washington is his fault no matter what. While people can criticize the ideas he comes out with, as President it’s a lot easier to fire back. Having ideas on the table will allow him to control the debate. Instead of randomly deciding what to threaten to veto, Congress knows what he wants. If members of the Tea Party try to send him something that’s different it will be a lot easier to explain why it won’t help them, and how his policies will. It’s really not a hard argument.

While S&P’s reason for downgrading the U.S. was faulty, it’s easy to blame their reasoning on the Tea Party. S&P wasn’t worried about America not being able to pay back its debt, it was worried that there was no political will to figure out a way to do it. While, according to John Boehner, the Republicans got 98% of what they wanted by walking away from the table(not once, but twice) and refused to compromise. It caused the stock market to lose all the gains it made the last two years, along with $3 trillion dollars worth of people’s 401k’s. Now, we’re back at square one.

It wasn’t just enough that I said in the last paragraph the Republicans have ruined the economy. I explained why and described it in a way people can visualize the downfall. Square one tells people in a easy way where the economy is, reminding them of 2008 when Obama was elected. It shows what was gained in Obama’s first two years, and what we lost when the Tea Party took over the House of Representatives. It was the same way Change was able to give people a vision to let people know what Obama was about while keeping their attention for the short amount of time they look at the TV.

So fine, blame me for trying to help our President out. Tell me I don’t know what I’m talking about and Obama is going to ruin the country and destroy our social protection programs. I still think you’re wrong and it’s better the devil you know. All politicians play politics whether you like them or not. Their goal is to win the middle and stay in office. The next election will be decided on the state of the economy, and the CNN poll showed he’s losing that battle with virtually all major demographics. As the election gets closer the people paying close attention are going to be looking for ideas that will help them and their families. Obama is on the political fence when it comes to people who sway on the political scale, and if he wants to win reelection he’s going to have to start now in order to sway them his way.


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