It may be apocryphal, but the story has it that President Lyndon Johnson, following a scathing report on his conduct of the war in Vietnam filed by CBS anchor Walter Cronkite, said, “If I’ve lost Cronkite, I’ve lost Middle America.” It may now be said without fear of contradiction that Barack Obama has lost Middle America.
He’s certainly lost long-time cheerleader Ron Fournier, who has a piece at National Journal titled “Why We Lied to Obama.”
Riffing on the now-popular “Obama lied” meme, Fournier writes:
Americans told President Obama in 2012, ‘If you like your popularity, you can keep it.’
Well, at least we didn’t tell him the whole truth. What we meant to say was that Obama could keep the support of a majority of Americans unless he broke our trust. Throughout his first term, even as his job-approval rating cycled up and down, one thing remained constant: Polls showed that most Americans trusted Obama.
As they say in Washington, that is no longer operable.
That most Americans, including Fournier, trusted Obama throughout his first term, which included among other fiascos the raid on the U.S. Consulate at Benghazi and attendant cover-up, says more about them than it does about Obama.
In any case, as Fournier laments, the trust is gone:
A new Quinnipiac University poll shows for the first time that a majority of Americans (52 percent) don’t think the president is honest and trustworthy. His previous lowest mark came on May 30, when 47 percent said he couldn’t be trusted. In a related finding, only 39 percent of the public approves of Obama’s job performance.
This follows recent polls by Gallup and NBC News/Wall Street Journal showing Obama’s approval ratings at the lowest levels of his presidency. Obama’s second term is on the same downward trajectory as President George W. Bush’s. Obama’s predecessor lost credibility with the public after his claims about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq were proven false, and after his rosy assertions about the government’s performance during Hurricane Katrina defied logic.
How bad is it for Obama? In that Quinnipiac poll, his job approval rating hit its lowest mark, 39%, since he became president. Voter confidence in the Affordable Care Act is even lower, with 19% saying the quality of care they and their families receive will improve in the next year because of the ACA, while 43% say it will get worse.
With respect to job approval, Obama comes out slightly worse in a recent Pew Research Center poll, which again finds that 39% approve of the job he’s doing against 56% — a point higher than in the Quinnipiac survey — who disapprove.
Obama has lost the faith not only of Ron Fournier but of Fournier’s colleague, Alex Roarty, who wrote his own post-mortem of the Obama presidency yesterday, titled “Why Obama Won’t Bounce Back.”
[N]o president in the last 60 years has watched his approval ratings bounce back during their [sic] second term. Either they didn’t make it to another stint in office (Ford, Carter, and George H.W. Bush), never dipped in the first place (Eisenhower and Clinton) or were removed from office at the nadir of their popularity (Nixon) [sic; Nixon resigned]. Lyndon Johnson recovered somewhat, but only after announcing he would not seek another term. Ronald Reagan dropped from the low 60s to the high 40s amid the Iran-Contra scandal, and his popularity never recovered entirely until his last months in office. But it also never fell to lows experienced by Truman or Bush.
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