Polls give us a snapshot of what's on Americans' minds at any given moment. So, I'm astounded by the moment we find ourselves in. As you sit reading this, former Vice President Cheney is on a two month surge of popularity. President Barack Obama, on the other hand, is doing his best Wile E. Coyote impression with no brakes on the rocket car, and has just careened over the edge of the fifty-foot cliff.
So what has boosted the former Vice President's approval ratings up by anywhere from 8-10%, while watching the president's take a nose dive of 11-14% since January?
I'm certain that, like peeling back an onion, the layers to this answer are many.
The president has had a rough summer and fall is not even officially here yet. While Ben Bernanke, the man he wants to keep as Fed chair declared this week that the recession in the United States is, "very likely" over, real unemployment is at 14 percent or higher. Could people be remembering that unemployment during the two terms of the Bush administration hovered at about the 4-5% range? Could they be longing for the days when they had jobs?
Obama promised he'd personally never allow the unemployment rate to surpass 8%, but now that the current unemployment rate has risen to 9.7%, the president must surely wish he could somehow get back to that 8% number.
But I'm fairly certain that it's something more than all this that explains the surge in popularity for former Vice President Cheney.
The current administration doesn't seem to understand that creating economic growth would help solve the most number of needs for the most people. If someone has a job, they can choose whether they want health care or not. If someone has a job, they can decide to invest and save for the future, so that when tough times come they're more prepared. If someone has a job, they can feed their family and give the ones they love a better place to live. If someone has a job, many other parts of life get better for many, many people.
Vice President Cheney never forgot that by helping the small businessman in America you help roughly a dozen families simultaneously. By cutting the tax burdens of small business (people the current administration label "rich" and "evil") you help provide the livelihoods for a dozen families. By creating a smaller burden on small business you create jobs -- and its jobs that solve many other problems that Americans are now facing.
Yet again, I'm not truly convinced that this is the secret to why America is moving towards Cheney and away from Obama.
Personally I think it comes down to gravitas, seriousness, and the ability to look out for Americans.
President Obama seems completely uninvolved in the actions of his Attorney General Eric Holder. He's even gone so far as to intimate that he cannot control the choice of cases Holder decides to open, look into, and go after. But even political novices aren't fooled by this kind of sophistry.
Security also seems to just be a game to the current administration. Something that's fun to use politically (like pitting the Afghanistan conflict vs. the Iraq theater during the campaign), until one day they wake up and realize that Afghanistan may be a bigger mess than Iraq was. The administration is reckless when it goes to make speeches in radical regions of the globe and says in a gathering of Muslims that America is a Muslim country, and that Americans share the same values as Islam.
You see, Vice President Cheney, or Lord Vader, or whatever you call to him, might have had a pretty opinionated view of terrorists and not necessarily the kindest. -- You know they did plan on flying an airliner into his office and all. The man was never confused, however, over whether or not subjugation of women and honor killings were "American values."
Furthermore, Vice President Cheney also strongly believes that the men and women who are asked to do the difficult things with terrorists to get the information that saves American lives should be given the legal protection they were granted by the Justice Department to carry out those tasks to begin with.
I know, I know, President Obama and General Holder think playing Arabic Yahtzee will yield the same results for the future, and maybe it will. There is no reason, however, to go open up new cases on the men and women who did their job, kept us safe, and have never so much as heard a "thank you" from an administration that owes its very possibility to their success.
In short, Vice President Cheney believes there are such things as heroes, and he is just an old fashioned enough guy to step up and say so.
At the end of the day, for Barack Obama serving "We The People" as president has turned out to be much harder than simply talking about being president.
That's why fundamentally changing the fabric of American has not been turned out to be quite as easy as simply repeating the words, "Hope and Change" while clicking the ruby slippers together three times...
President Obama lives in a world that he desperately wishes existed. Vice President Cheney lives in the world that actually does. And as much as Mr. Cheney does not relish having to correct the current administration on policy, Americans are showing that they are grateful that he's taking the time to do so. -- Well...about 8% more of them over the last two months anyway.
Kevin McCullough is the nationally syndicated host of "'Xtreme' Radio and columnist based in New York. He blogs at www.muscleheadrevolution.com.