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Some now see Obama as the ‘comeback kid’

For a guy who took a “shellacking” in the midterm elections six weeks ago, President Obama is doing pretty well during this lame-duck political period.

He wrestled Republicans and his own liberal wing into passage of the tax cut/unemployment deal. After a fitful start, he got a trade deal with South Korea. Saturday he saw a huge win in the demise of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” ban on gays serving openly in the military. And his allies on Capitol Hill so far have been able to beat back amendments that could have spiked the START nuclear weapons treaty with Russia.

“Is Barack Obama the new Comeback Kid?” ask USA Today writers Mimi Hall and Richard Wolf.

“This is the start of him looking like he can handle Washington in its current composition,” Republican pollster Jon McHenry told the newspaper. “That’s a huge deal.”

Over at the Washington Post, conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer also shakes his head admiringly as he describes Obama’s “comeback,” noting that he’s “already a year ahead” of where Bill Clinton was when the former president finally recovered from the midterm whupping he took in 1994.

Obama’s ‘impressive achievement’
“And that was Clinton responding nimbly to political opportunity,” Krauthammer writes. “Obama fashioned out of thin air his return to relevance, an even more impressive achievement.”

Reading today’s entrail-like polls, one finds confirming evidence of this view.

A new Washington Post poll shows Obama doing better than Clinton in 1994 or George W. Bush in 2006 – years when the former presidents suffered midterm defeats. Asked “Who do you trust to cope with the nation’s problems?” most voters back then picked the other party (Republicans in ’96, Democrats in ’06). This time, Obama edges out the GOP in trustworthiness.

In the same poll Obama also does better than Republicans when respondents are asked who is more “sincere in wanting to reduce the budget deficit.”

Still, all is not rosy for Obama – particularly as war in Afghanistan drags on and as economic recovery remains anemic.

“Consistent with the mood of the nation all year, 2010 is closing on a down note,” the Pew Center reported this past week. “Fully 72 percent are dissatisfied with national conditions, 89 percent rate national economic conditions as only fair or poor, and majorities or pluralities think the country is losing ground on nine of 12 major issues.”

The President’s approval rating has suffered as a result.

A Washington Post-ABC News Poll taken 10 days ago has Obama’s approval rating dropping steadily over his time in office from 68-49 percent. Meanwhile, his disapproval rating has grown from 25-47 percent. (The low point in his approval-disapproval rating was in early September, when it was 46-53.)

Setting a new political course
Naturally, the White House reads such poll numbers as it tries to set a better political course toward 2012.

A new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll shows most Americans approving Obama’s apparent shift toward the political center.

This survey was conducted by Republican Bill McInturff and Democrat Peter Hart. “Both pollsters say Mr. Obama retains a strong reservoir of good will, considering the string of bad news that has buffeted his White House,” the newspaper reports.

“There’s a lot of work to be done, but I don’t think the midterm elections have left him undone,” Mr. Hart told the Wall Street Journal.

“People are feeling too bad to want a failed presidency,” said Mr. McInturff, the Republican. “They want to retain some hope and optimism.”

It’s a long throw from now until the 2012 presidential elections. At this point, it’s a mixed picture for the President, according to this survey.

Only 42 percent said they would probably vote for Obama if he runs again. Still, that’s better than the 39 percent who said they would probably vote for a Republican.

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Comments (2)

  1. Submitted by Hénock Gugsa on 12/20/2010 - 12:38 pm.

    This is all a bunch of hooey! The “comeback kid” story-book and fantasy-creation is nothing but one big PR drive by the White House. They are just laying the groundwork for Obama’s second term presidential campaign.

    1- The “tax cut/unemployment deal” that you mentioned is going to come back (and that will be the real ‘comeback”) and haunt everybody that pushed it thru. Nothing really has been done about getting or creating serious measures that result in jobs, jobs, jobs. Giving money to the rich does not necessarily lead to job creation directly or indirectly. And unemployment insurance extension is just a delay measure. It’s like Scarlett O’Hara saying, “I’ll worry about that tomorrow.”

    2- To date, there hasn’t been and there probably will not be any good-will and serious cooperation between the President and the republicans. Yes, they have wielded out compromises thru sheer political wiliness and drudgery. But, everybody probably held their noses at the bill signing.

    3 – The President has been mean to his friends and subservient to his foes. He snickered at his base and called them “sanctimonious.” Talk about self-projection!

  2. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 12/21/2010 - 07:54 am.

    Seems to me that in order to considered the Comeback Kid ala Clinton, Obama would have to get his legislation passed despite the other party being in the majority. The last I looked the democrats still control both houses of congress.

    I remember Clinton’s press conference after the ’94 mid-terms when he had to answer the press’ questions about whether or not he was still relevant. As long as the democrats control the senate Obama will never have to answer that question.

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