At the risk of giddy over-optimism, I have the hunch that the American voting public is beginning to demand legislating that actually deals with the nation's problems. There is creeping -- still ambiguous -- evidence of this, starting with the national polling data.
I argued last December that President Barack Obama's support for the extension of the Bush tax cuts would not end up helping him once the 2011 legislating season started picking up steam, because by principle the president was toward the left side of the political spectrum -- and the public was toward the right -- particularly on the matter of public debt and deficit.
Consider the recent polling. Using the reliable RealClearPolitics national average of polling, the president's job approval was about 45 percent positive and 49 percent negative at election time in November, down about 4 percent. He inched up over the holidays to about even, and then in early January (before Congress was getting back into the controversial matters), he went upward to about 49 percent positive and 46 percent negative, plus 3.
In the aftermath of the Tucson, Ariz., shooting and the president's exceptionally well-received speech, his job approval level reached a high of 51-43 percent in late January, an 8-point advantage. The latest numbers are back down to 48.8 percent positive to 45.3 percent negative, a 3.5 percent positive for the president but a negative 5-point swing in the first month of substantive policy argument domestically and conspicuous turmoil abroad.
Then last week came the president's proposed 2012 budget, which was poorly received, even by The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Associated Press, MSNBC and the rest of the liberal media, all of them accusing the president of failing to lead on the great issue of debt and deficit. His advisers then rushed him out for a news conference repair job, where the come-away presidential quote was that the Washington press corps was "impatient" with him on his handling of the deficit.
But the building evidence is that the public is also impatient. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's approval level is shooting up in the polls as he loudly and decisively cuts the state budget (including state pensions) to deal with his state's emergency.
The public still has clearly in mind the riots in Athens, London and Paris and the deficit crisis in Greece, Ireland, Spain, Britain, France, Portugal and more of the European Union. For the first time, it is clear to all the world that modern, successful, stable Western democracies can actually run out of money and have their borrowing requests virtually rejected by the international bond market.
Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.
In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.