With the long, hot summer coming to an end, President Barack Obama returns to a cool reception in Washington.
To put it mildly, things ain’t going well in Obamaland. The President’s approval ratings continue to fall at a record rate, his administration lacks focus and his signature health care reform agenda is on life support.
Obama’s political capital account is bankrupt, depleted from too many compromises on health care and other issues. With his once-vaunted ability to rally a nation with stirring rhetoric gone, jeers now replace cheers at Obama rallies and those who predicted the President wasn’t ready for prime time are clucking and saying "I told you so."
Obama has lost his mojo and a growing number of clockers and watchers doubt he can get it back.
Republicans, following a basic rule of Politics 101, successfully knocked Obama off message and he appears unable to regain control of the national debate. A major part of his problem is that he prefers a shotgun approach to problems. With all that shot going in so many directions, it’s hard to focus on a single issue.
There isn’t a single health care reform bill before Congress, At last count, we had five. By scrambling to shore up support and cut deals, Obama diluted his message — if he ever really had one.
No American President in recent history has fallen so far so fast in the eyes of Americans. Jimmy Carter started with a 70 percent approval rating and it took 18 months for him to fall under the 50 percent mark. Even George W. Bush, the man who many consider the most unpopular President in modern times, stayed popular with a majority of Americans for three years before dropping into the nether land.
Obama’s job approval dropped 20 points in eight months: a record free fall.
Barack Obama is a charming, charismatic speaker but he is not a bold leader. He is not a uniter. He returns from vacation to a Washington that is more divided than ever by partisan rancor. He faces a nation more divided than ever over issues like health care reform, jobs, the economy and failing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
He inherited most of these problems but appears unable to focus his energies to resolving even one of them. The problem intensifies as jobless benefits run out for more and more Americans and the quality of life in this nation continues to disintegrate.
Barack Obama came to Washington eight months ago as a symbol of hope for a desperate nation. He returned to Washington after an August vacation as a failed leader of a failing nation faced with more desperation, more skepticism and more pessimism.