Monday, January 4, 2010

How Obama Lost My Support. And How He Can Regain It. (Part I)

Well, you knew the day was coming...

It pains me to write this, but for the first time in my adult life, I do not approve of the job Barack Obama is doing as President. I ran a quick poll just before Christmas, checking in on the overall sentiment of AverageNation re: Obama's job performance. The results were enlightening to say the least.

So, after registering in the mid-70's in all polls to date, Barry dropped a precipitous 10 points in Q4 to an all-time low of 65% in The AverageNation Obama Approval Ratings™. And I, for the first time, was among those voting "No". Here's the breakdown of 2009 as a whole.

I could run through a littany of issues on which I disagree with Obama's job performance, but most of them tie to the very same problem: Leadership. Or more specifically, lack thereof.

I said it then, and I'll say it now, the only thing I expected of Obama as a "black" politician was that he'd be a straight shooter. That he'd hire the best folks for the job, rather than toy around with the typical political bullsh*t trickery of hiring buddies and unqualified weed carriers. I hoped he'd follow through on at least the most basic of promises. And perhaps most of all, I hoped he'd be a model for millions of young, impressionable black boys by being a forceful, principled leader. On that last account, he's failed me most.

Think about it, black leadership at its best is visionary and definitive. It is not milquetoast. It is confrontational, yet respectful. It doesn't delegate. It drives. Name me a black leader, and I guarantee you, whatever flaws these people might have, they've possessed the "warrior mentality" embodied in those principles.

Obama doesn't possess this "warrior mentality", and while he may likely end up a two term President (let's face it, the economy will recover, and he'll be able to claim credit. That's a guaranteed 2nd term.), his lack of strong leadership will ultimately be the difference between being considered a good President and a great one. I didn't take days off work to campaign for merely a "good" President. And to date, he hasn't really even been "good", just "okay". That's not a "solid B Plus". Negro Please. That's a C Minus at best.

This lack of strong leadership has reared its head in many ways from the start. If you promise to curb the influence of lobbyists, you can't nominate one to head HHS. If you promise to end earmarks, you can't decry the first round of such spending as "last year's business", and sign off on yet another round of them at year's end. If you are pushing historic healthcare reform, you can't allow misguided morons to undo your signature legislation by accusing you of wanting to ether grandmothers. If you've just cut the taxes of 95% of Americans, you can't allow your opposition to continually repeat the falsehood that you are indeed taxing these same Americans into chattel slavery. You can't allow morons to call you a liar on national television, promise to "call them out", and then do absolutely nothing. You can't delegate the sausage-making of the very legislation that will define your Presidency to a bunch of self-serving hacks with their own widely-varying personal agendas. You can't squander a bulletproof majority on Capitol Hill because you can't keep your pros in check. You can't sell the fallacy of "bi-partisanship" to an opposing party that clearly has no interest in playing along nicely. And can't allow this same opposition (which, BTW, would accuse you of eliminating healthcare jobs if you cured cancer) to continually control the message.

Although I'll note I firmly agree with about 75% of what President Obama has pushed policy-wise, I am fed up with him because his "f*ck effort" style of leadership is going to ultimately handicap him come next Fall when the very folks he needs to continue passing legislation are sent packing. Does anyone remember how much stuff got done in Bush's final two years? Not much. How damn near impossible it was for Clinton to get things done once Newt and Co. took over? In short, Obama was handed a gift wrapped majority in both the Senate and House, and his lack of leadership is soon going to render this moot. Whereas Clinton was able to work with the Republicans to continue to get things done, I don't hold out nearly as much hope for Obama, given the incredibly polarized nature of things in DC today. I'd love to be proven wrong, but the day folks like John Boehner and Mitch McConnell are in agreement with Barry on policy matters will be the day the Redskins win the Super Bowl. Which is to say, no time soon.

Tomorrow's bookend post will outline some ways I think Obama can pull things back together, and more importantly, win back my support, but for now, I'm interested in knowing what ya'll think.

Question: Am I completely overreacting about President Obama's style of leadership? Does he lack a "warrior mentality", or does he even need one? What could he have differently in 2009? Do you still approve of the President's job performance? Why, or why not?

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