“Your expectations of how bad ‘The Lone Ranger’ is can't trump the reality.”
-- Rolling Stone movie critic Peter Travers.
What’s the only summer remake that’s less popular than “The Lone Ranger?”
The latest FOX News poll says it’s the major effort by President Obama to shift the focus away from what he calls “phony scandals” at the IRS, Department of Justice and NSA.
Until he was blown off course by new threats from al Qaeda, Obama was trying hard to make his case for increased domestic spending ahead of budget battles with Republicans. The poll found, though, that 71 percent considered Obama’s campaign swing to be talking about “the same things he’s been talking about for the last few years.”
And on the campaign swing itself? FOX News pollsters asked, “What do you think is the best way for President Obama to go about solving the nation’s problems?” Sixty-three percent said by “locking himself in a room with Republicans and working out solutions.” Just 24 percent – down 8 points from February – thought he should travel the country and make speeches to voters.
Obama will be meeting today with Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, and the White House is sure to be pushing the story line that Greece’s heinous economy is the result of austerity imposed by the country’s Northern European currency partners. [Pundit alert: Cue bickering op-eds about “We’re not Greece!” “Oh yes we are!”]
The president, who promised a press conference on more pressing matters when he made his July pronouncement on George Zimmerman’s acquittal, was pretty clearly hoping to have reset the national discussion before he left for vacation on Sunday. He may be taking a week of inaction, but his permanent campaign arm is supposed to be churning on “Action August,” in which Obamanauts pressure Republicans and restive Democrats to embrace the president’s stalled second-term agenda.
Instead, Obama is winding up the working phase of his summer still beset by worries about abuses of power in his administration, anxiety about his health law, a global terror scare and unraveling Russian relations. And in the meantime, the economic policies he’s been pitching actually got more unpopular.
Obama’s call for more spending and greater government involvement in the economy wasn’t popular before, but the new poll shows that disapproval has grown. Along with a majority expressing concerns over the abuse of food stamps and government aid, 74 percent of the registered voters surveyed said Americans rely too much on the government and not enough on themselves. That includes 80 percent of independents and 78 percent of voters age 35 and under.
If Obama’s aim in hitting the road was to reverse his slide with voters that began shortly after news of the IRS scandal broke, he didn’t reach his objective. The president’s job-approval rating stands at 42 percent, down seven percent from a year ago, and 52 percent of voters now disapprove of the job Obama is doing -- matching his previous record high disapproval in September 2010.
One of the culprits? Democratic approval for Obama ebbed lower to 82 percent. Obama’s strategy to largely brush off the scandals that have hurt him with nearly every constituency in favor of a big-budget summer remake is not paying off at the political box office.
Republicans are sure no matinee idols with voters these days, but it seems that the president has managed to hurt, not help, his position heading into his fall fiscal food fight.
And Now, A Word From Charles
“You know, America's word is simply not very much respected in the world. That's the fact. And I think as a consequence -- Obama used to talk about Guantanamo and all the sins of the Bush administration, torture and all this stuff, as the recruiter of terrorists. The biggest recruiter of terrorists is American weakness.”
-- Charles Krauthammer on “Special Report with Bret Baier.”
Chris Stirewalt is digital politics editor for Fox News, and his POWER PLAY column appears Monday-Friday on FoxNews.com. Catch Chris Live online daily at 11:30amET at http:live.foxnews.com.
Chris Stirewalt joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in July of 2010 and serves as politics editor based in Washington, D.C. Additionally, he authors the daily Fox News Halftime Report political news note and co-hosts the hit podcast, Perino & Stirewalt: I'll Tell You What. He also is the host of Power Play, a feature video series on FoxNews.com. Stirewalt makes frequent appearances on network programs, including America’s Newsroom, Special Report with Bret Baier and Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace. He also provides expert political analysis for FNC’s coverage of state, congressional and presidential elections.