UPDATE, Saturday, December 12. I invite all those who peevishly blame the president for what's been happening (or not happening) in Washington to take a look at this poll, just out on PollingReport.com. You will recall that Obama, throughout his campaign, advocated a so-called "public option" as part of healthcare reform, and he has continued to fight for it during the tumult of the past several months. The poll linked above shows that just under 60 percent of Americans, overall, favor a public option. Among Democrats—whose elected officials theoretically control the White House as well as both houses of Congress—the figure is 80 percent. Even a full one-third of Republicans favor the plan. And yet we can't seem to get it done in the obstructivist, gamesmanship-dominated, lobbyist-inflected climate within today's Beltway.
While we're on the subject of politics, major governmental initiatives, political biases and all that, I must say I am astounded, absolutely astounded, by what's been happening to Obama's approval numbers. Understand, I'm not so much astounded by the fact that it's happening. Nothing surprises me anymore, certainly not in politics or government. I'm astounded by what the decline tells me, again, about my fellow Americans, who not only want everything, but apparently want it done yesterday.
I can see how Obama's policies (and, maybe more so, his populist views) wouldn't have won him any converts among the GOP. Fair enough. GOP loyalists are going to hate him a little bit more for every new policy he enacts. But the precipitous decline in the approval ratings—to the point where he could easily slip quite soon to a position where a plurality (if not a majority) of Americans disapprove—says clearly that a fair number of those who voted for the man have jumped ship. Already. Whether you supported him to begin with, as I did, or not, let's review what Barack Obama was up against. No sooner did he take the oath of office than he had to figure out:
- what to do about Iraq and the war on terror as a whole
- what to do about entire industries on the verge of collapse
- what do do about a wider economy and job market that were in free fall
- how to prevent millions of Americans from losing their homes
- how to unstick a credit market that had slowed to nothing
- how to go about ensuring healthcare coverage for all Americans, and
- how to restore confidence in the stock market
So do these latest approval numbers really say that at least some of the voters who supported Obama expected him to fix all these problems, once and for all, in 10 months or less? Amid the highly polarized, obstructionist climate that is Washington, D.C.?
I can only shake my head.
And, for our daily moment of hilarity... As I write this I'm listening to a columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News, Jenice Armstrong, explain why so many black women are especially upset with Tiger Woods. Is it because he's a lying no-good pig? No. Is it because he's reinforcing the negative stereotype of black men that already exists in some precincts? No. Is it because he's a black dude who "made it out," made it big, yet all that success still wasn't enough for him? No.
It's because he picks white women to cheat with.
That's right. Black women are upset, says Armstrong, because Tiger doesn't like to dishonor his marriage with them. Once more I can only fall back on the words of the immortal Dave Barry: I swear, I am not making this up.