Is Mr. 77% Beginning To Act Like It?
by Todd Beeton, Thu Jan 15, 2009 at 02:18:44 PM EST
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, Bushs 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.