WASHINGTON -- President Obama's job approval polls are declining, proving Abraham Lincoln's admonition that you can't fool all the people all the time.
The Gallup Poll reported Thursday that Obama's job approval grade has fallen to a politically embarrassing 46 percent, and that 47 percent of those polled disapprove of his second-term performance, up by three points.
To add insult to injury, Obama had to swallow the news that his Republican predecessor, on whom he has blamed all of his problems, deficiencies, failures and blunders, is now seen as much more popular than Obama is right now.
A separate nationwide Gallup survey finds that former President George W. Bush is seen as "more positive than negative for the first time since 2005, with 49 percent rating him favorably and 46 percent unfavorably."
That may be the result of Bush's decision to stay out of the political swamp, as he calls it, and refrain from making any disparaging remarks about his successor. But it may also signal the public's longing for the tame $147 billion budget deficit near the end of Bush's presidency, the 5.2 percent average unemployment rate over his eight years, and less than $2 for a gallon of regular gasoline at the end of his term in office.
Now in the sixth month of his unfocused, purposeless, scandal-ridden second term, Obama's troubled presidency is wearing thin among many Americans who seem to have come down with a chronic case of buyer's remorse.
He promised to bring the high unemployment rate down to about 6 percent, but it remains at 7.6 percent. Nearly 12 million Americans are still unemployed.
The real unemployment rate -- when you add in part-time workers who can't find full-time jobs, and millions of discouraged people who stopped looking and thus are not counted -- is closer to 14 percent.
He said he would boost the economy's growth rate to get America working again. But economic growth, as measured by the gross domestic product, has been stuck in an anemic, subpar 2 percent range at best, and it's fallen well below that level in recent quarters.
He said he would hold the line on gas prices, but they've risen to budget-busting levels under his anti-fossil fuels, anti-oil exploration policies. The average price of a gallon of regular gasoline at the pump was running around $3.63 Thursday, according to AAA's Daily Fuel Gauge Report, though the price was $4 a gallon and higher in many parts of the country, particularly the Midwest.
Gas prices today are higher than they were a year ago, according to AAA, but that doesn't surprise people who have closely tracked Obama's belief that higher gas prices are good for us. Here's the inside story:
When Obama took office on Inauguration Day 2009, regular gas was selling for $1.90 a gallon under Bush's pro-growth, pro-jobs, pro-energy independence policies. The gas price decline under the Bush administration was a welcome relief to motorists, but secretly not to Obama, who believes gas prices must rise substantially if heavily-subsidized alternative fuels are to become economically viable.
During the 2008 presidential campaign, Steven Chu, a physicist professor at Stanford University, who was one of Obama's energy advisers, told the Wall Street Journal: "Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe" where gas prices are about $9 a gallon.
That was music to Obama's ears. He made Chu his secretary of Energy and gas prices soared.
Over the course of the past six months, Obama's zig-zagging, improvisational presidency has been battered by one scandal after another, further eroding whatever trust voters had in him when they gave him a second term.
The administration's slippery explanations, doubts and denials about what was clearly an all-out terrorist attack on our consulate in Benghazi, Libya spawned suspicions that the White House was playing politics with this tragic event in the mist of the 2012 campaign.
To this day, the White House's double-talk response about what happened has the rank smell of dissembling and cover-up. The State Department hasn't produced an acceptable explanation about why the pleas of Ambassador Christopher Stevens for increased security were coldly ignored before he and three other Americans were murdered by terrorists.
Then came the nasty IRS scandal where, under orders from Washington officials, federal tax agents targeted and intimidated dozens of conservative groups during the 2012 campaign cycle to delay and deny their tax-exempt status that made it more difficult for them to raise money.
Even more recently, we have the catastrophic disclosure of national security surveillance programs by a low-level libertarian ideologue who thinks the terrorists should know exactly how and where we are tracking them to prevent another 9/11.
The scandal isn't that we've used telephone and internet data tracking, with court oversight, to uncover and foil terrorist attacks against our country and our allies. The police have used such tools in their criminal investigations for a long time.
The real scandal is this administration's negligent hiring practices in our intelligence agencies and its loose security rules, which allowed this national security thievery to take place. The White House still hasn't bothered to explain how it happened. There's no telling how much damage has been done to our homeland security on Obama's watch.
The result: The president is fast losing the confidence of the American people who voted for him in November. They see a chief executive who has an excuse for everything that has gone wrong in his presidency, who spends much of his time at party fundraisers and focusing on next year's midterm elections, rather than dealing with bread-and-butter issues that concern most Americans.
In a recent nationwide survey, the Gallup Poll offered a list of institutions in American society and asked respondents "how much confidence you, yourself, have in each one."
Confidence in the Obama presidency ranked fifth in the responses, at a dismal 36 percent. This compares to the institution that drew the highest level of confidence, at 75 percent: the military.
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