As the first year of Barack Obama’s presidency comes to a close, it is clear that our commander in chief has not emerged as the unifier and "change" agent of he promised he would be on the campaign trail. A closer look at his actions over this past year shows that his administration’s policies lack a common purpose that can win the support of Americans when it comes to health care reform, creating jobs, and fighting terror.
A clear indication that the president has yet to deliver on his promises as the American people expected him to can be found in his job approval ratings. Throughout the year, they have declined steadily with each new policy decision. The latest polls showing him hovering at just a 50% favorable approval with many polls, including those from Rasmussen Reports and CBS News, dropping below that mark. A lot has changed for the president since he addressed the nation at his inauguration one year ago.
Health care is the clearest example of how deep the divide is between the president’s policies vs. the people who elected him. President Obama entered the year with what many believed was a mandate to pass health care reform. Even today, Americans still clearly want reform, they just don’t want the legislation that is being championed by the president and his party right now as it is merged in Congress. The latest Rasmussen Reports poll shows 51% oppose the current plan with only 40% in favor. A CNN/Opinion Research poll released last week shows an even larger opposition with 57% opposing the plan. Obama’s largest initiative in his first year is shaping up to be an outright disaster.
Obama is also stumbling on the issue that many American’s are most worried about -- jobs. Americans have seen a lot of spending over the last year between stimulus money and bailouts but they have yet to feel the impact in the form of jobs.
Chatter about the economy heading towards recovery means nothing to those looking for steady employment or worried they may be doing so soon. In an ABC News/Washington Post poll just released, 52% of respondents disapproved of the president’s handling of the economy.
Americans are tired of spending and are looking for the tax cuts that 95% of all Americans were promised byt candidate Obama along with pro-growth policies that will offer incentives for businesses to create jobs and revive the economy. Unfortunately, what they are getting is a health care bill that Democrats and the White House are trying to ram through Congress with a trillion dollar price tag.
In addition to creating jobs and finding a common sense approach to health care reform, Obama needs to articulate a clear message on how his administration will continue to fight terror. He has done a good job of building political capital and goodwill around the world, but he has not demonstrated to the American people that he can and will protect them on American soil.
Although there have been successes in disrupting terrorist plots since Obama took office, it was only a total fluke that we did not have a major tragedy on Christmas Day due to a monumental failure by the Obama administration to put together information from different agencies had that would have identified Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab as a terrorist.
In addition to the failure by Obama’s team to stop the attack, American’s were perplexed by the president’s tepid response as he initially appeared to be removed from the severity of the event. A terrorist attack against the United States nearly succeeded and the president appeared to the American public as distant and cool in his first remarks. It wasn’t until later in the week that he showed the outrage many had expected from him in the beginning. This comes on the heels of questions surrounding his decisions to try the September 11 terrorists in federal court in New York City which had raised serious doubts about the president’s policies to fight terror and keep America safe.
Let’s be clear, the president has had a tough year and his policies have ventured too far left for a center-right nation.
His approval ratings are sinking, and have been for some time, and he needs to make major changes if he wants to have success in his second year.
He can overcome his low scores by emerging as the president he promised he would be through almost two years of campaigning. In order to do so, Obama must listen to the American people. They are telling him, in no uncertain terms they want a health care reform bill that reduces costs without a trillion dollar price tag. They are saying that they want him to develop policies that create jobs and don’t just save Wall Street. And finally, the American public wants to know that their president will stand up and fight the terrorists to keep America safe. Only by listening to the American people, who have come together to tell him what they need, can President Obama get his administration back on track for a better 2010.
Doug Schoen is a Democratic pollster, author and Fox News contributor.