Is Mr. 77% Beginning To Act Like It?

The latest NBC/WSJ poll provides further confirmation that the blips and the drama that have accompanied Obama's transition (see, in particular, Blagojevich, Rod and Burris, Roland) are not hurting Obama's popularity in the least.

From First Read:

According to the latest NBC/WSJ poll, Obama's fav/unfav is 66%-14%, a whopping 71% approve of his transition so far, and while 55% say they like Obama personally and mostly approve of his policies, an additional 22% say they like him personally but disapprove of his policies. So that's 77% who say they like the president-elect. These numbers match the post-election euphoric period last month.

As always, Obama's ridiculous popularity is in stark contrast to George W. Bush's lack thereof.

Bush is leaving more unpopular than any other modern president except for Nixon (who resigned from office), according Gallup data of these past presidents. In the NBC/WSJ poll, Bush’s approval rating is at 27% (which matches his all-time low in the poll), and his fav/unfav is 31%-58%.

All of which makes Thomas Frank's column, Obama should act like he won, all the more relevant.

Frank's point is that Obama has been exhibiting some centrist tendencies and for no apparent reason. Not only did Obama win a convincing victory and now has large majorities with which to govern, but centrism's record is hardly something worth emulating.

And centrism's achievements? Well, there's Nafta, which proved Democrats could stand up to labor. There's the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act. There's the Iraq war resolution, approved by numerous Democrats in brave defiance of their party's left. Triumphs all.

Histories of conservatism's rise, on the other hand, often emphasize that movement's adherence to principle regardless of changing public attitudes. Conservatives pressed laissez-faire through good times and bad, soldiering on even in years when suggesting that America was a "center-right nation" would have made one an instant laughingstock. [...]

That's why it is so obviously preferable to be part of the movement that doesn't compromise easily than to depend on the one that has developed a cult of the almighty center. Even a conservative as ham-handed as former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay seems to understand this.

As he recounted in his 2007 memoirs, Republicans under his leadership learned "to start every policy initiative from as far to the political right as we could." The effect was to "move the center farther to the right," drawing the triangulating Clinton along with it.

President-elect Obama can learn something from Mr. DeLay's confession: Centrism is a chump's game. Democrats have massive majorities these days not because they waffle hither and yon but because their historic principles have been vindicated by events. This is their moment. Let the other side do the triangulating.

Indeed. I've excerpted several of the column's final paragraphs but the whole thing really is worth reading.

One wonders if today's unveiling of a larger than expected ($825 billion) stimulus is a belated acknowledgment on Democrats' part that they have both power and political capital and intend to use it, certainly welcome news if it is.

Working closely with President-elect Barack Obama, House Democrats on Thursday called for $825 billion in federal spending and tax cuts to revive the moribund economy, with strong emphasis on energy, education, health care and jobs-producing highway construction.

The legislation calls for federal spending of roughly $550 billion and tax cuts of $275 billion over the next two years — totals all but certain to rise as it makes its way through Congress.

"Immediate job creation and continuing job creation" are the twin goals, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said at a news conference. Joblessness has risen sharply in recent months, and Obama has warned it could reach double digits unless action is taken to invigorate the economy.

One of the most promising aspects of the proposed bill -- and an indication that Obama intends to pay far less deference to the minority than he has appeared inclined to of late -- was Boehner's response upon hearing about the stimulus package:

"Oh. My. God," said a stuttering Minority Leader John Boehner moments ago at a news conference. He was reacting after having just read the provisions outlined by Democrats today.

Now, that's more like it.

Tags: Barack Obama, George W Bush, NBC/WSJ poll (all tags)

Comments

30 Comments

Re: Is Mr. 77% Beginning To Act Like It?

Too funny. I wonder how "oh my god" moments Boehner will have during the Obama Administration. The more the merrier.

by Charles Lemos 2009-01-15 02:36PM | 0 recs
"Oh. My. God."

I assume he swished his feather boa back and forth as he said this.  Does anyone have video?

by username 2009-01-15 06:22PM | 0 recs
Re: "Oh. My. God."

He was fanning himself for sure.  The only question was whether it was with his hand or not.

by Jess81 2009-01-16 01:06AM | 0 recs
political capital

Again my link to my diary, which I updated on an article from the Nation about the GOP's strategy regarding Obama's popularity. Basicaly, they will wait until this stimulus is not sucessful, and then attack:

"Update [2009-1-15 19:33:40 by bruh3]: As if on cue, Ezra Klein posts this link to an article today about:

"Why Republicans Won't Oppose the Stimulus"

http://www.thenation.com/blogs/jstreet/3 97443/why_republicans_won_t_oppose_the_s timulus

The core take: "Here's my sense of their long-term strategy. This isn't based on anything other than observation and chatting around the Capitol. I think they'll let the stimulus pass and, indeed will be quite fine with it being very big. Much bigger than it is now: a trillion dollars or more. Because once the stimulus passes, Republicans are going to say: OK. We're done. Meaning: no more money. They'll point to the $700 billion for the TARP, plus the $1 trillion for the stimulus, and they'll say: we've spent all the money there is to be spent. There's no money for healthcare. There's no money for anything, really except the Pentagon. They'll run against deficits, waste and bailout nation."

Thus they will attempt as I said to block any almost certanly necessary future action. The political capital that Obama has right now will not have fully been used. Instead, at a future date when the economy is quite possibly still in a meltdown, and Obama has been tied to the economic condition after his first stimulus has not had its desired effect, they will block those actions that he takes then because the theory is he will have less political capital to spin. This is speculation, but this is clearly part of their strategy. An ineffectual plan now, and thus a weakened Obama in a year or so.

by bruh3 2009-01-15 02:38PM | 0 recs
Re: political capital

They sure are betting the farm on that... kindof like Giuliani gambling the nomination on the Florida primary...  Tf Mr. 77% stays above 60%, then their plan will have failed bigtime!

by LordMike 2009-01-15 03:16PM | 0 recs
Re: political capital

This is nothing like the FL situation.

No one expects the economy to improve even with a good stimulus plan until 2010. I have heard horror stories of 2011.

Eventually, as I keep saying, the glow wears off. I am seeing a lot of the hubris that Bush and company had when their numbers were high. The numbers will go down or up. That's what they do when you start to actually do stuff by which people can judge you.

The question is whether he will do something that will produces a good result (in which case they will go up) or neutral or bad (the later to given the dire straights we are in are unacceptable). He needs to win on the economy.

I think he's setting himself up by the wrong yardstick, but as I keep saying, I am just a random guy rambling on a blog.

by bruh3 2009-01-15 03:21PM | 0 recs
He's got until June 2010

for the economy to turn around.  Otherwise, we will probably be wishing that he was never elected.  

by Kent 2009-01-15 03:38PM | 0 recs
Re: He's got until June 2010

I should start by saying I want Obama to suceed, and this iw hy i don't get the logic here, and no one has ever explained it to me in a way that makes sense beyond "I have faith in him."

The core point is that he must have an economic plan that works or the GOP will attack him and the Democrats relentlessly.

Thus, you would think the most important thing for him and the Democrats would be pushing through a plan that they know will work, if for no other reason than self interest.

Yet, you have people not arguing "Oh , it's a plan that will work" but that "politically this is the best plan we can get."

The later seems to guarantee a failure of the economic plan which in turn means a failure on the long term political strategy.

That's the ass backwards logic I don't get. How does one ensure long term political interest by putting forward a plan that most , including his own economists if you read their report, do not believe will do what they need the plan to do?

by bruh3 2009-01-15 03:46PM | 0 recs
Re: He's got until June 2010

The GOP has nothing... honestly... what are they going to attack?  All they can offer is more of the same that brought us here....

Polling suggests, and most analysts believe, that Obama is going to have a LOT more leeway than may be expected... They are rooting for him, and 79% expect the economy to be horrible for more than 2 years...  Most people in the know do not expect the GOP to regain anything 'cos people are going to give us some time to make things better... and all he has to do is make sure things improve somewhat... that is a low bar to reach.

I see so many progressives freaking out 'cos they think it's going to be like 1994 over again, and it's not.  The beginning of Clinton's term was so much different in every way than what we have now.

People aren't going to punt in 2 years to go back to failed policies... I know it's hard for us to believe, 'cos we've been kicked int he pants for so long, but the fact is, the country is actually rooting for Democrats for a change and against Republicans.  That's not going to change soon, 'cos republicans really have nothing to offer and they know it.

Most republican strategists are shooting for 2014 to make any realistic gains...  That sounds about right...

by LordMike 2009-01-15 05:46PM | 0 recs
Re: He's got until June 2010

My arguments are not that it's 1993. It's that it's not. So why are we making policies based on 1993 fears?

The stated reason why the stimulus is structured as it is structured is for compromise.

by bruh3 2009-01-16 06:28AM | 0 recs
Re: political capital

So what happens if the stimulus is successful?

by spirowasright 2009-01-15 05:54PM | 0 recs
Re: political capital

The better question is how to we ensure that it is sucessful rather than hoping that it will be.

by bruh3 2009-01-15 06:01PM | 0 recs
Re: political capital

" ... how to we ensure that it is successful"?

Take Paul Krugman's advice:  1) Make it BIG (nearly a trillion or more); 2) Put lots of funding in for unemployment benefits, food stamps, health care for the poor, etc.; 3) limit the tax cuts (supported by Republican) for businesses (because the cuts will be pocketed, rather than create new jobs).

All Obama and the Democrats need to do is act like they won!

by slip kid no more 2009-01-16 07:05AM | 0 recs
Re: political capital

Let them try to that.  They're in the minority in BOTH houses.  If that happens, call their bluff.  See how many vulnerable Republicans fold.

Then again, Pelosi, Hoyer, and Reid are useless, so they'd probably cave.

by TheUnknown285 2009-01-16 06:09AM | 0 recs
Re: Is Mr. 77% Beginning To Act Like It?

I'm supposed to be excited that we are going to spend $825 Billion in deficit?  I'll wait to see what it buys.

by Jerome Armstrong 2009-01-15 03:29PM | 0 recs
825?

That's peanuts. Some economists want it on the high side of 2 trillion. I think planting all the money trees qualifies as "green tech", no?

by Neef 2009-01-15 03:39PM | 0 recs
Re: 825?

Peanuts?  Get serious.

Its not the amount, but what it is spent on.

If it was $2 trillion includes getting us off of oil & coal, and onto renewable, or a national energy grid, that would be worth it.

If its $825 Billion that's spent on keeping the status quo, that's just buying time and increasing the deficit.

by Jerome Armstrong 2009-01-16 04:50AM | 0 recs
"status quo"

Interesting way of looking at 3-4 million jobs. I agree about the overall wisdom of the long view, I am just a bit less dismissive of people getting work.

by Neef 2009-01-16 08:41AM | 0 recs
Re: Is Mr. 77% Beginning To Act Like It?

No you are supposed to be pissed he is not spending more. You really need to keep up Jerome.

by jsfox 2009-01-15 03:39PM | 0 recs
Re: Is Mr. 77% Beginning To Act Like It?

Jerome has yet to hear that most of that is for Truck Nutz, and there's an extra pair set aside just for him.  Even Our Girl wasn't offering the extra pair.

by username 2009-01-15 06:27PM | 0 recs
Re: Is Mr. 77% Beginning To Act Like It?

I don't have a problem with the deficit if I thought he was putting it into both stimulus and long term investment.

A new energy economy investment for example would in the long term produce a lot of savings and potentially create a booming economy.

My problem right now is I am questioning whether this plan with do this because the arguments I keep reading are apologies for the plan as "the best plan he can get politically."

This argument , as I say above, is bizare since politically the best plan should be the one that ensures economic success. Or, at least one would think.

by bruh3 2009-01-15 03:48PM | 0 recs
Re: Is Mr. 77% Beginning To Act Like It?

No, you're supposed to be enraged that the Federal Reserve has not yet been abolished and that Ron Paul's desire for our currency to be entirely backed by our current gold reserves has yet to be endorsed our current President-elect before inauguration.

Please get further enraged by increases in deficit spending during a Democratic administration.  It's very entertaining.

by West of the Fields 2009-01-15 05:55PM | 0 recs
Re: Is Mr. 77% Beginning To Act Like It?

That was funny.

by Jess81 2009-01-16 01:09AM | 0 recs
Re: Is Mr. 77% Beginning To Act Like It?

Please get further enraged by increases in deficit spending during a Democratic administration.

Its ironic that you get your thrills at seeing debt skyrocket.

by Jerome Armstrong 2009-01-16 04:44AM | 0 recs
Re: Is Mr. 77% Beginning To Act Like It?

I don't know what you're reading into my statement -I'm not "thrilled" about increasing the national deficit -but I think it's obvious that the Democratic party will have to spend a lot more money to help improve our credit markets, which are now totally opposed to helping working people seeking to avoid defaults and foreclosures on their loans.  

For them, and for the diminishing credit of our banks, I'm willing to accept the "skyrocketing" debt incurred by our nation government for the next couple of years.  What other choice do we have?

by West of the Fields 2009-01-19 04:32PM | 0 recs
No.

You're supposed to be excited that it could work.

by iohs2008 2009-01-15 07:32PM | 0 recs
Re: No.

Like I said, it depends on what it is spent on. Some of the cheerleaders here don't really care what its spent on, and they are the ones that would be cheering as they led/followed over the cliff.

If its money that invests in things that have an economic return, it might work. Otherwise, its probably not going to do anything but have us spend a lot of deficit money, and then have the same problems with bigger economic woes, in 2010.

by Jerome Armstrong 2009-01-16 04:43AM | 0 recs
Is the problem with the cheerleading?

Or with the spending?

I can't help but feel your objection is more to the former than the latter.

IMO, this is our time to cheer. And loudly. You know confidence and optimism go a long way to successfully righting a sagging economy. From the only thing we have to fear to morning in America.

If we adopt the age old Cardale Dukakagorekerry losercrat mentality of pessimisim and insecurity before we even begin, then Obama's plan is less likely to succeed.

And what is the alternative to this spending package? Not spending? If Obama takes the position of inaction, he not only appears impotent to help our economy, but nothing can be gained from nothing ventured.

I understand the concern that this spending package runs the risk of making matters worse, but I also understand the certainty of inaction making matters worse too, plus guaranteeing failure of an Obama Administration.

by iohs2008 2009-01-17 05:37AM | 0 recs
Re: Is Mr. 77% Beginning To Act Like It?

I think Obama could still have other items on the agenda that will really increase the stimulus.

One is health care.  Getting more insured and reducing the American consumer's health insurance cost is another stimulus.  And energy policy could
be another stimulus if it invests in alternative energy sources.  If Obama came out with a higher figure, he'd be attacked relentlessly for its cost.

by esconded 2009-01-15 05:43PM | 0 recs
Re: Is Mr. 77% Beginning To Act Like It?

Very well-written, Todd...as usual.

by Spiffarino 2009-01-16 10:30AM | 0 recs

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