In the early days of Barack Obama's presidency, his approval rating soared to dizzying heights as many Americans thought we had entered a new era of hope, change, unity, bipartisanship and uplifting speeches. Then, Obama moved on to actual governance and suddenly, for the first time in his political career, he had to primarily rely on his unproven leadership skills instead of his soaring oratory. That hasn't worked out so well for him because he has engaged in seven deadly political sins:
Partisanship: After 16 years of ugly political battles during the Clinton and Bush presidencies, Americans were ready for a President who'd actually be able to get Republicans and Democrats to work together. Like McCain, who, love him or hate him, is a true bipartisan reformer, Obama constantly talked about unity during the campaign. However, once Obama was elected, the idea of cooperating with the other side went right out the window. Republicans were locked out of having any significant input on legislation as Obama decided to rely completely on his own party to get his agenda passed.
Typical of that attitude is this statement from Obama:
But I don't want the folks who created the mess to do a lot of talking. I want them to get out of the way so we can clean up the mess. I don't mind cleaning up after them, but don't do a lot of talking." -- Barack Obama
There's nothing new about hamfisted partisanship in American politics, but if you practice it after running a campaign where you repeat the word "unity" so often that you sound like a parrot with a one word vocabulary, don't expect people to be happy with you.
Racialism: Many Americans believed Barack Obama's election would lead the country into a post-racial world. After all, Obama's rhetoric during the campaign was very different from previous "black leaders" like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson. Besides, if a black man could become President, how racist could the country really be?
However, that wonderful dream has turned into a nightmare since Obama was elected. His supporters are frivolously crying "racism" about everything from
Lying: Bill Clinton was a shameless liar, but he was smooth about it. There's a reason so many people refer to the man as "Slick Willie." Obama, on the other hand, is so confident that the media will stick by him that he will blatantly contradict his earlier statements and just expect the press to simply cover for him. While that's exactly what happens most of the time, all it seems to be doing over the long run is destroying the credibility of Obama and the mainstream press at the same time. That's because eventually, when
Radicalism: In America, distrust of government is as American as apple pie and as sensible as locking your door at night. So, when the government runs up unsustainable deficits, takes over GM and Chrysler, and attempts to swallow our entire health care system, people naturally get frightened and angry. That has a lot to do with the outrage that we're seeing at these Townhall meetings and it's definitely hurting Obama's popularity.
Liberalism: Most Americans thought Obama had much more in common ideologically with Bill Clinton than Jimmy Carter. However, instead of a President steering the ship of state a bit to the left-of-center, Americans got a President who seems determined to take the country as far to the Left as he can, as fast as he can, preferably without any debate about the subject. Contrary to liberal opinion, this is a center-right country. Most Americans don't share the ideological views of Ted Kennedy and they don't want to see the United States turned into Venezuela or the Soviet Union, circa 1975. That bodes ill for a man who has already proven to be the most liberal President we've ever had in the White House.
Greed: In all fairness to Barack Obama, given that the Left has what may be once in a lifetime margins in the House and Senate, it makes a certain kind of sense to try to ram as much of their agenda through as possible while the Right doesn't have the numbers to try and stop them.
However, when you try to sledgehammer through an enormous number of radical, extremely liberal bills in a center right country that dislikes radicalism and rapid change, you're going to pay a steep price in popularity. It's like the old saying goes, "Pigs get fed, hogs get slaughtered." Barack Obama is being a hog about his agenda and he's started to get slaughtered at the polls as a result.
Arrogance: Whether it's Obama smugly saying "I won" to a Republican who had concerns about handing out a "tax credit for people who don't pay income taxes" or his administration's willingness to openly admit that they were exploiting the economic crisis to get Obama's agenda through -- "Never let a serious crisis go to waste" -- Obama's presidency has been marked by a stunning pomposity. As Kathryn Jean Lopez noted, "For Barack Obama, democracy appears to be a distraction. He really does seem to view himself as a Caesar." The American people want a President who views himself as their servant, not a king who wants to lecture the peasants about what he views as "teachable moments."