Friday, October 16, 2009

All other things being equal, the higher a President's approval ratings, the more likely a President will be able to use the 'bully pulpit' to advance his agenda.

And there is another somewhat inter-related aspect to approval ratings: the extent to which a President views the public as giving him either a big pat on the back in the case of high approval ratings or the middle finger where the ratings aren't so good.

For some Presidents, such as Bush II, the second aspect are less important for the simple reason that they just don't seem to care that much about what the public thinks. They're motivated by whatever motivates them, they know they're right and they're going to persevere no matter how low the ratings are.

But for Presidents like Obama, who truly care about what the public thinks of him, low ratings are a kick in the teeth.... and especially coming so relatively soon after he took office. Imagine being someone who was so caught up in the adoration who now has to read that less than half of the public would vote for him again? Imagine how it is to go from thinking re-election was going to be a shoe-in to having to hope the GOP nominates somebody as un-electable as Sarah Palin?

Granted, Obama still has (at a minimum) three-plus years to go and he can sure do some damage in that time. But to the extent that Obama decides that he wants to regain that adoration, since the people don't like what he is doing, he is going to have to change his stripes.

Maybe he'll spend less time apologizing for the United States and more time talking about how good it is. Maybe he'll be less willing to hand off domestic policy to two people - Pelosi and Reid - who rank near the bottom of the polls. Maybe he'll get off his scheme to turn the economy into a bought-and-paid-for subsidiary of the United States government. Any of this would be good, in fact, any departure from his current terrible programs would be nice.