January 31, 2012
By Christopher Booker
When I happened to wake up in the middle of the night last Wednesday and caught the BBC World Service’s live relay of President Obama’s State of the Union address to Congress, two passages had me rubbing my eyes in disbelief.
The first came when, to applause, the President spoke about the banking crash which coincided with his barnstorming 2008 election campaign. “The house of cards collapsed,” he recalled. “We learned that mortgages had been sold to people who couldn’t afford or understand them.” He excoriated the banks which had “made huge bets and bonuses with other people’s money”, while “regulators looked the other way and didn’t have the authority to stop the bad behaviour”. This, said Obama, “was wrong. It was irresponsible. And it plunged our economy into a crisis that put millions out of work.”
I recalled a piece I wrote in this column on January 29, 2009, just after Obama took office. It was headlined: “This is the sub-prime house that Barack Obama built”. As a rising young Chicago politician in 1995, no one campaigned more actively than Mr Obama for an amendment to the US Community Reinvestment Act, legally requiring banks to lend huge sums to millions of poor, mainly black Americans, guaranteed by the two giant mortgage associations, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
January 26, 2012
By David Jackson
“It seems people were too busy to watch the State of the Union. They were either playing video games, they don’t care, or they are sick and tired of the lies in Washington. We hope it’s the ladder.” –KTRN
Nearly 38 million people watched President Obama’s State of the Union Address, his smallest audience for any such speech.
The Nielsen rating company reported 37,752,613 viewers, with a combined household rating of 24.0 for the speech carried on 14 television networks.
As happens with many presidents, Obama’s ratings have steadily fallen over the years.
Obama’s first address to a joint session of Congress on Feb. 24, 2009 — technically not a State of the Union speech, but markedly similar — drew 52.4 million viewers and a rating of 32.5, his highest numbers.
The 2010 State of the Union drew 48 million viewers and a rating of 29.8.
Last year, Obama’s speech had an audience of 42.8 million and a rating of 26.6.
August 13, 2010
By: Nile Gardener
The last few weeks have been a nightmare for President Obama, in a summer of discontent in the United States which has deeply unsettled the ruling liberal elites, so much so that even the Left has begun to turn against the White House. While the anti-establishment Tea Party movement has gained significant ground and is now a rising and powerful political force to be reckoned with, many of the president’s own supporters as well as independents are rapidly losing faith in Barack Obama, with open warfare breaking out between the White House and the left-wing of the Democratic Party. While conservatism in America grows stronger by the day, the forces of liberalism are growing increasingly weaker and divided.
Against this backdrop, the president’s approval ratings have been sliding dramatically all summer, with the latest Rasmussen Daily Presidential Tracking Poll of US voters dropping to minus 22 points, the lowest point so far for Barack Obama since taking office. While just 24 per cent of American voters strongly approve of the president’s job performance, almost twice that number, 46 per cent, strongly disapprove. According to Rasmussen, 65 per cent of voters believe the United States is going down the wrong track, including 70 per cent of independents.
The RealClearPolitics average of polls now has President Obama at over 50 per cent disapproval, a remarkably high figure for a president just 18 months into his first term. Strikingly, the latest USA Today/Gallup survey has the President on just 41 per cent approval, with 53 per cent disapproving.
There are an array of reasons behind the stunning decline and political fall of President Obama, chief among them fears over the current state of the US economy, with widespread concern over high levels of unemployment, the unstable housing market, and above all the towering budget deficit. Americans are increasingly rejecting President Obama’s big government solutions to America’s economic woes, which many fear will lead to the United States sharing the same fate as Greece.
Growing disillusionment with the Obama administration’s handling of the economy as well as health care and immigration has gone hand in hand with mounting unhappiness with the President’s aloof and imperial style of leadership, and a growing perception that he is out of touch with ordinary Americans, especially at a time of significant economic pain. Barack Obama’s striking absence of natural leadership ability (and blatant lack of experience) has played a big part in undermining his credibility with the US public, with his lacklustre handling of the Gulf oil spill coming under particularly intense fire.
On the national security and foreign policy front, President Obama has not fared any better. His leadership on the war in Afghanistan has been confused and at times lacking in conviction, and seemingly dictated by domestic political priorities rather than military and strategic goals. His overall foreign policy has been an appalling mess, with his flawed strategy of engagement of hostile regimes spectacularly backfiring. And as for the War on Terror, his administration has not even acknowledged it is fighting one.
Can it get any worse for President Obama? Undoubtedly yes. Here are 10 key reasons why the Obama presidency is in serious trouble, and why its prospects are unlikely to improve between now and the November mid-terms.
1. The Obama presidency is out of touch with the American people
In a previous post I noted how the Obama presidency increasingly resembles a modern-day Ancien Régime, extravagant, decaying and out of touch with ordinary Americans. The First Lady’s ill-conceived trip to Spain at a time of widespread economic hardship was symbolic of a White House that barely gives a second thought to public opinion on many issues, and frequently projects a distinctly elitist image. The “let them eat cake” approach didn’t play well over two centuries ago, and it won’t succeed today.
2. Most Americans don’t have confidence in the president’s leadership
This deficit of trust in Obama’s leadership is central to his decline. According to a recent Washington Post/ABC News poll, “nearly six in ten voters say they lack faith in the president to make the right decisions for the country”, and two thirds “say they are disillusioned with or angry about the way the federal government is working.” The poll showed that a staggering 58 per cent of Americans say they do not have confidence in the president’s decision-making, with just 42 per cent saying they do.
3. Obama fails to inspire
In contrast to the soaring rhetoric of his 2004 Convention speech in Boston which succeeded in impressing millions of television viewers at the time, America is no longer inspired by Barack Obama’s flat, monotonous and often dull presidential speeches and statements delivered via teleprompter. From his extraordinarily uninspiring Afghanistan speech at West Point to his flat State of the Union address, President Obama has failed to touch the heart of America. Even Jimmy Carter was more moving.
4. The United States is drowning in debt
The Congressional Budget Office Long-Term Budget Outlook offers a frightening picture of the scale of America’s national debt. Under its alternative fiscal scenario, the CBO projects that US debt could rise to 87 percent of GDP by 2020, 109 percent by 2025, and 185 percent in 2035. While much of Europe, led by Britain and Germany, are aggressively cutting their deficits, the Obama administration is actively growing America’s debt, and has no plan in place to avert a looming Greek-style financial crisis.
5. Obama’s Big Government message is falling flat
The relentless emphasis on bailouts and stimulus spending has done little to spur economic growth or create jobs, but has greatly advanced the power of the federal government in America. This is not an approach that is proving popular with the American public, and even most European governments have long ditched this tax and spend approach to saving their own economies.
6. Obama’s support for socialised health care is a huge political mistake
In an extraordinary act of political Harakiri, President Obama leant his full support to the hugely controversial, unpopular and divisive health care reform bill, with a monstrous price tag of $940 billion, whose repeal is now supported by 55 per cent of likely US voters. As I wrote at the time of its passing, the legislation is “a great leap forward by the United States towards a European-style vision of universal health care, which will only lead to soaring costs, higher taxes, and a surge in red tape for small businesses. This reckless legislation dramatically expands the power of the state over the lives of individuals, and could not be further from the vision of America’s founding fathers.”
7. Obama’s handling of the Gulf oil spill has been weak-kneed and indecisive
While much of the spilled oil in the Gulf has now been thankfully cleared up, the political damage for the White House will be long-lasting. Instead of showing real leadership on the matter by acing decisively and drawing upon offers of international support, the Obama administration settled on a more convenient strategy of relentlessly bashing an Anglo-American company while largely sitting on its hands. Significantly, a poll of Louisiana voters gave George W. Bush higher marks for his handling of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, with 62 percent disapproving of Obama’s performance on the Gulf oil spill.
8. US foreign policy is an embarrassing mess under the Obama administration
It is hard to think of a single foreign policy success for the Obama administration, but there have been plenty of missteps which have weakened American global power as well as the standing of the United States. The surrender to Moscow on Third Site missile defence, the failure to aggressively stand up to Iran’s nuclear programme, the decision to side with ousted Marxists in Honduras, the slap in the face for Great Britain over the Falklands, have all contributed to the image of a US administration completely out of its depth in international affairs. The Obama administration’s high risk strategy of appeasing America’s enemies while kicking traditional US allies has only succeeded in weakening the United States while strengthening her adversaries.
9. President Obama is muddled and confused on national security
From the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to the War on Terror, President Obama’s leadership has often been muddled and confused. On Afghanistan he rightly sent tens of thousands of additional troops to the battlefield. At the same time however he bizarrely announced a timetable for the withdrawal of US forces beginning in July 2011, handing the initiative to the Taliban. On Iraq he has announced an end to combat operations and the withdrawal of all but 50,000 troops despite a recent upsurge in terrorist violence and political instability, and without the Iraqi military and police ready to take over. In addition he has ditched the concept of a War on Terror, replacing it with an Overseas Contingency Operation, hardly the right message to send in the midst of a long-war against Al-Qaeda.
10. Obama doesn’t believe in American greatness
Barack Obama has made it clear that he doesn’t believe in American exceptionalism, and has made apologising for his country into an art form. In a speech to the United Nations last September he stated that “no one nation can or should try to dominate another nation. No world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will succeed. No balance of power among nations will hold.” It is difficult to see how a US president who holds these views and does not even accept America’s greatness in history can actually lead the world’s only superpower with force and conviction.
There is a distinctly Titanic-like feel to the Obama presidency and it’s not hard to see why. The most left-wing president in modern American history has tried to force a highly interventionist, government-driven agenda that runs counter to the principles of free enterprise, individual freedom, and limited government that have made the United States the greatest power in the world, and the freest nation on earth.
This, combined with weak leadership both at home and abroad against the backdrop of tremendous economic uncertainty in an increasingly dangerous world, has contributed to a spectacular political collapse for a president once thought to be invincible. America at its core remains a deeply conservative nation, which cherishes its traditions and founding principles. President Obama is increasingly out of step with the American people, by advancing policies that undermine the United States as a global power, while undercutting America’s deep-seated love for freedom.
July 19, 2010
Vice President Joe Biden brushed aside suggestions on Sunday that Democrats will suffer big losses in November midterm elections, vowing that Barack Obama’s governing party will “shock the heck out of everybody.”
Speaking on the ABC News program “This Week,” Biden dismissed prevailing wisdom that Democrats, 17 months into Obama’s transformative residency in the White House, would suffer a drubbing at the hands of salivating Republicans.
“I don’t think the losses are going to be bad at all,” Biden said. “I think we’re going to shock the heck out of everybody.”
Biden said he was “confident when people take a look at what has happened since we’ve taken office in November and comparing it to the alternative, we’re going to be in great shape.”
The vice president said he believes the Obama administration will get credit from voters for helping guide the economy out of recession and passing key legislation on health care and financial reform.
“It’s just going to take time,” Biden said.
“The election is not until November. And I think we’re going to have to firmly make our case.”
Obama has launched into campaign mode in recent weeks, hoping to transform the spectacular grassroots support from Democrats and independent voters which propelled him to the presidency in 2008 into a full-bodied platform for his party in the upcoming congressional races.
In a swing through western states earlier this month, Obama sought to brand Republicans as extreme and incompetent, reminding voters the party were in charge when the economy pitched into the deepest recession since the 1930s.
“I think we can make it and especially in the context of who’s going to be opposing us,” Biden said Sunday.
“Compared to the alternative, I think we’re going to get a fair amount of credit by November and I think we’re going to do fine.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell meanwhile Sunday insisted voters see the ballooning national debt as a key concern over any achievement from Obama, as he dismissed criticism of Republican obstructionism — most recently for opposition to extending insurance for the millions of out-of-work Americans.
The Democrat’s House Majority Leader, Steny Hoyer, however urged a focus on a positive election year, calling to a move beyond the ongoing debate over racism in the conservative “Tea Party” movement that has divided voters.
“What we need to be doing is talking about the issues and solutions and what happened in the past to get us in the ditch we are in,” Hoyer told CNN.
“If we do that, this will be a positive election. If we try to inflame differences and create division, that will not be positive and that’s what some are doing.”
The Tea Party, a mostly conservative grass roots revolt against Obama administration economic and health reform policies, has electrified the Republican Party base ahead of the November elections.
Biden earlier came to the defense of his political foes in the conservative movement, saying that while “some of the Tea Party folks expressed racist views” he added that he “wouldn’t characterize the Tea Party as racist.”
March 11, 2010
By Glenn Thrush
President Barack Obama is summoning two key senators to the Oval Office on Thursday for an update on immigration reform efforts — but one of them, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), thinks Obama should be the one giving the update.
Graham, less than thrilled at the notion of providing the equivalent of a book report to the headmaster in chief, said Obama’s lack of direction on immigration reform is hampering Graham’s efforts to recruit additional Republicans to the cause.
“At the end of the day, the president needs to step it up a little bit,” Graham told POLITICO on Tuesday. “One line in the State of the Union is not going to do it.”
For the past six months, Graham and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) — who meet with Obama at 3 p.m. Thursday — have worked on a reform framework. Their plan, which hasn’t been introduced yet, includes a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants (a liberal must-have) while sweetening the pot for moderates by proposing tough new safeguards, including a biometric national ID card for workers.
To the frustration of many reform advocates, Obama has kept his opinions of the possible deal vague, giving a head nod to reform in his State of the Union speech but not much more.
Obama spokesman Nick Shapiro offered no response to Graham’s challenge but reiterated the administration’s intention to allow Congress to hash things out before Obama weighs in, an approach reminiscent of his health reform strategy.
“The president’s commitment to fixing our broken system remains unwavering,” Shapiro said. “Earlier, the president told members of both parties that if they can fashion a plan to deal with these problems, he is eager to work with them to get it done, and he has assigned [Homeland Security] Secretary [Janet] Napolitano to work with stakeholders on that effort.”
Shapiro went on to reiterate Obama’s core principles — not prescriptions — including resolving “the status of 12 million people who are here illegally.” He punted when asked about the controversial ID system, which has the backing of some immigrant groups while sparking fierce opposition from civil libertarians.
“There are a number of options on the table, but we are clear that we need to build on and improve the existing verification system if we are going to get control of the job market for undocumented workers,” he said.
Napolitano, who has held dozens of meetings on the topic with House members and senators, was supposed to attend a previously scheduled Graham-Schumer meeting Monday, which had to be postponed when Graham’s flight from South Carolina was delayed. She’ll be overseas during Thursday’s meeting, an administration official said.
Graham said he wants a greater sense of direction to break the cycle of distrust that doomed comprehensive immigration reform during the Bush administration, despite the support of a Republican president and major party figures like Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).
February 2, 2010
By Lynn Sweet
WASHINGTON–President Obama finally admitted on Monday that he broke his pledge to open up negotiations over health care–even have them televised on C-SPAN. This comes after administration spokesmen and top advisors for months now have been pretending that Obama was not breaking an oft repeated campaign promise.
The admission came during an interview with ABC’s Diane Sawyer in advance of Wednesday’s State of the Union address. Obama said he would “own up” to what he called a “legitimate mistake” during his speech before a joint session of Congress. Obama’s promise of opening up the backroom deals–using C-SPAN–was a standard line on the 2008 campaign trail, a crowd pleaser that always, always won him applause.
Once he got to Washington, the promise was soon abandoned. The Obama White House only once invited C-SPAN in–and that was not a real negotiation session, but a day of several workshops with health care stakeholders, in an invitation list the White House controlled. Inviting cameras into dealmaking with members of Congress–never happened.
“You know, I think your question points out to a legitimate mistake that I made during the course of the year, and that is that we had to make so many decisions quickly in a very difficult set of circumstances that after awhile, we started worrying more about getting the policy right than getting the process right,” Obama said.
“But I had campaigned on process. Part of what I had campaigned on was changing how Washington works, opening up transparency and I think it is — I think the health care debate as it unfolded legitimately raised concerns not just among my opponents, but also amongst supporters that we just don’t know what’s going on. And it’s an ugly process and it looks like there are a bunch of back room deals.
“Now I think it’s my responsibility and I’ll be speaking to this at the State of the Union, to own up to the fact that the process didn’t run the way I ideally would like it to and that we have to move forward in a way that recaptures that sense of opening things up more,” he said.
January 28th, 2010
By Nile Gardiner
As expected, Barack Obama’s 70 minute State of the Union address focused heavily on the economy and the domestic political agenda. This was hardly surprising in the aftermath of last week’s catastrophic defeat for his party in the Massachusetts special Senate election, where the Republicans scored an historic victory. American voters are turning strongly against the president’s health care reform package as well as his big government vision for the economy, which has contributed to spiraling public debt and mounting unemployment, now standing at over 10 percent.
But the scant attention paid in the State of the Union speech to US leadership was pitiful and frankly rather pathetic. The war in Afghanistan, which will soon involve a hundred thousand American troops, merited barely a paragraph. There was no mention of victory over the enemy, just a reiteration of the president’s pledge to begin a withdrawal in July 2011. Needless to say there was nothing in the speech about the importance of international alliances, and no recognition whatsoever of the sacrifices made by Great Britain and other NATO allies alongside the United States on the battlefields of Afghanistan. For Barack Obama the Special Relationship means nothing, and tonight’s address further confirmed this.
Significantly, the global war against al-Qaeda was hardly mentioned, and there were no measures outlined to enhance US security at a time of mounting threats from Islamist terrorists. Terrorism is a top issue for American voters, but President Obama displayed what can only be described as a stunning indifference towards the defence of the homeland.
The Iranian nuclear threat, likely to be the biggest foreign policy issue of 2010, was given just two lines in the speech, with a half-hearted warning of “growing consequences” for Tehran, with no details given at all. There were no words of support for Iranian protestors who have been murdered, tortured and beaten in large numbers by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s thuggish security forces, and no sign at all that the president cared about their plight. Nor was there any condemnation of the brutality of the Iranian regime, as well as its blatant sponsorship of terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan.
As the example of Iran showed, the advance of freedom and liberty across the world in the face of tyranny was not even a footnote in the president’s speech. I cannot think of a US president in modern times who has attached less importance to human rights issues. For the hundreds of millions of people across the world, from Burma to Sudan to Zimbabwe, clamouring to be free of oppression, there was not a shred of hope offered in Barack Obama’s address.
Obama’s world leadership in his first year in office has been weak-kneed and little short of disastrous. He has sacrificed the projection of American power upon the altar of political vanity, with empty speeches and groveling apologies across the world, from Strasbourg to Cairo. He has appeased some of America’s worst enemies, and has extended the hand of friendship to many of the most odious regimes on the face of the earth. Judging by the State of the Union address tonight, we can expect more of the same from an American president who seems determined to lead the world’s greatest power along a path of decline
As expected, Barack Obama’s 70 minute State of the Union address focused heavily on the economy and the domestic political agenda. This was hardly surprising in the aftermath of last week’s catastrophic defeat for his party in the Massachusetts special Senate election, where the Republicans scored an historic victory. American voters are turning strongly against the president’s health care reform package as well as his big government vision for the economy, which has contributed to spiraling public debt and mounting unemployment, now standing at over 10 percent.But the scant attention paid in the State of the Union speech to US leadership was pitiful and frankly rather pathetic. The war in Afghanistan, which will soon involve a hundred thousand American troops, merited barely a paragraph. There was no mention of victory over the enemy, just a reiteration of the president’s pledge to begin a withdrawal in July 2011. Needless to say there was nothing in the speech about the importance of international alliances, and no recognition whatsoever of the sacrifices made by Great Britain and other NATO allies alongside the United States on the battlefields of Afghanistan. For Barack Obama the Special Relationship means nothing, and tonight’s address further confirmed this.Significantly, the global war against al-Qaeda was hardly mentioned, and there were no measures outlined to enhance US security at a time of mounting threats from Islamist terrorists. Terrorism is a top issue for American voters, but President Obama displayed what can only be described as a stunning indifference towards the defence of the homeland.The Iranian nuclear threat, likely to be the biggest foreign policy issue of 2010, was given just two lines in the speech, with a half-hearted warning of “growing consequences” for Tehran, with no details given at all. There were no words of support for Iranian protestors who have been murdered, tortured and beaten in large numbers by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s thuggish security forces, and no sign at all that the president cared about their plight. Nor was there any condemnation of the brutality of the Iranian regime, as well as its blatant sponsorship of terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan.As the example of Iran showed, the advance of freedom and liberty across the world in the face of tyranny was not even a footnote in the president’s speech. I cannot think of a US president in modern times who has attached less importance to human rights issues. For the hundreds of millions of people across the world, from Burma to Sudan to Zimbabwe, clamouring to be free of oppression, there was not a shred of hope offered in Barack Obama’s address.Obama’s world leadership in his first year in office has been weak-kneed and little short of disastrous. He has sacrificed the projection of American power upon the altar of political vanity, with empty speeches and groveling apologies across the world, from Strasbourg to Cairo. He has appeased some of America’s worst enemies, and has extended the hand of friendship to many of the most odious regimes on the face of the earth. Judging by the State of the Union address tonight, we can expect more of the same from an American president who seems determined to lead the world’s greatest power along a path of decline