The Canadian news magazine Macleans is not a conservative publication. It actually published a cover in 2007 of “How Bush Became The New Saddam.” It published several gooey pro-Obama covers with titles like “On the Road with Obama Superstar.” So it had to turn heads in Canada to see the cover story “The End Of Obama?”
Macleans writer Luiza Savage had a striking first sentence: “Two and a half years into Barack Obama’s presidency, Obamamania has given way to Obamamisery.”
Fourteen million Americans are out of work. The unemployment rate remains stuck above nine per cent. The net number of new jobs created last month was exactly zero. And nearly one in six Americans live in poverty—the most in 27 years.
Sure, the former Illinois senator was dealt a raw hand—elected in the midst of an economic crisis and two long, costly wars, at the burst of a credit and real estate bubble that would take years to unwind. In his inaugural address, the new President acknowledged “a nagging fear that America’s decline is inevitable.” But Obama had promised to be the man of hope and change. “Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America,” he told the millions people who had travelled from around the country and the globe to witness him take office and end the era of George W. Bush.
In January 2009, the unemployment rate was 6.9 per cent and Obama’s approval ratings were over 60 per cent. The question that framed his presidency was whether he would lead the country out of crisis the way Franklin Delano Roosevelt led the country out of the Great Depression, or whether he would become the next Jimmy Carter—a weak, one-term president done in by economic malaise and failures abroad.
This week the Congressional Budget Office revised down its projections of U.S. economic growth. It expects an anemic rate of 1.5 per cent in 2011 and 2.5 per cent in 2012. The U.S. unemployment rate will remain close to nine per cent through the end of 2012, the CBO predicted—a number that could spell political defeat for Obama in the next presidential election.
Some Democrats now worry he is turning out more Carter than FDR. “I’ve just done six town hall meetings. People are shaking their heads and saying ‘I don’t know if I’d vote for him again,’ ” Peter DeFazio, a Democratic congressman from Oregon, told his local TV station after spending the summer recess consulting constituents. “One guy asked me, ‘Give me 25 words what he’s about and what he’s done for me.’ I’m like, ‘It could have been worse.’ ”
She also quoted Sen. Joe Lieberman calling the election a “toss-up.” Then came a review of Obama's recent fighting-Barry speeches:
The economic anxiety among Americans is palpable. Polls show that only 17 per cent of Americans are satisfied with the economy, and after 2½ years in office, even Obama’s own aides concede that he now “owns” it. But after months of Democrats complaining that Obama has looked weak and bullied by Republicans in the debt battles, a different President appeared on the scene on Sept. 8. In front of a national television audience, Obama transformed himself from the wooden, professorial president into an energized leader with new-found focus. In a fiery speech to a joint session of Congress, he laid out a new job creation plan – and called on Congress to pass it immediately....Gleeful Democrats said the hitherto laconic President sounded like he’d finally had a cup of coffee.
Pollster Michael Dimock of the Pew Center for the People and the Press is brought on to curtail the pessimism:
Obama’s approval rating has been more resilient than George H. W. Bush’s during the recession of the early 1990s, says Dimock. “His approval is exceeding other economic and satisfaction metrics by a substantial margin. The only other president who enjoyed that was Clinton,” he says. And surveys of partisan affiliation suggest that Republicans have not made great inroads. The percentage of Americans identifying as Democrats peaked in 2008 with Obama’s election and has been falling ever since—but Republican identification has not been growing. “What you have is a growing share of voters that are disaffected with both parties. It makes making predictions about 2012 tricky,” notes Dimock.
The Macleans article concluded that Obama cannot save himself, but must be saved by other players:
Whatever Congress does with his jobs plan, though, the fate of Obama’s re-election may ultimately depend on factors beyond the control of any elected officials in the United States. Will Federal Reserve Board chairman Ben Bernanke overcome concerns about inflation and juice the American economy by increasing the money supply at the board’s next meeting on Sept. 21? Will German Chancellor Angela Merkel stem the European debt crisis that could potentially push the U.S. over the economic precipice? In the end, the question may be less whether Obama can save himself, but whether others such as Bernanke and Merkel can save Obama.