Thursday, July 08, 2010

Obama’s "Toughest" 18 Months: Another Look

“liberals are determined to reinvigorate the reputation of government, to prove that only the state can get important things done. That is why the Gulf oil spill, for instance, is so vexatious for the White House and its liberal supporters. Why can't the government be more nimble and resourceful?”

--Jonah Goldberg, 7.8.10

Here and here, I was incredulous about Obama’s statement that he was going through the “toughest year and a half” any president had seen since the 1930s. The first time I refuted the statement, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill was 36 days old (the day before “top kill,” BP’s first effort to close the well), and the second time, the spill was 48 days old (BP was saying “top cap,” tried three days earlier, was capturing “the vast majority of the oil.")

Eight days after that second post, on day 56, Obama visited the Gulf and declared, "I am confident that we're going to be able to leave the Gulf Coast in better shape than it was before." The next day, day 57, he made his first-ever Oval Office address, called for a new, post-oil energy policy, and said, “The one approach I will not accept is inaction.”

Obama had nothing to do with the Gulf oil spill. It wasn’t his fault. He does, however, properly draw blame for not moving sooner against the spill, with everything at his disposal, to keep oil from hitting land. Government could have done more, and Jonah Goldberg, a conservative columnist, is right to suggest so.

Along with the president, I underestimated the seriousness of the Gulf oil spill, the greatest human-caused environmental disaster in U.S. history. And of course, the spill adds significantly to Obama’s woes during his first 18 months, mitigating some of what I said earlier. Obama’s first 18 months end July 20, spill day 92. It’s been a rough period indeed.

And accordingly, the president’s polls are down. Obama’s job approval rating has been below 47% for 5 straight days, 8 of the last 14. No president with a job approval rating below 47% has ever won re-election. During the past two weeks, Obama’s job disapproval ratings twice reached to his approval ratings, and for the last 3 days, Obama has been “upside down” (disapproval higher than approval). Currently, Obama’s at 46.1% approval, 48.0% disapproval.

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