Wednesday, October 07, 2009

The Bully Pulpit

Interesting poll was put out yesterday by the Associated Press, one that warms my heart a little that maybe this nation is paying attention after all:
NEW YORK (AP) -- Most people still think the country is headed in the wrong direction but a new poll says there are more optimists than before and President Barack Obama's numbers are also on the upswing.

An Associated Press-GfK poll says 56 percent of those surveyed in the past week approve of Obama's job performance, up from 50 percent in September. It's the first time since he took office in January that his rating has gone up.

And those who disapprove of Obama are down to 39 percent, down from 49 percent last month.

While a majority of those surveyed remain pessimistic about the direction of the country, the poll found 41 percent now believe the U.S. is headed in the right direction, compared with 37 percent in September.

Of course, that being a FOX affiliate, you still haven't read the good news:
The latest Associated Press-GfK poll has found that opposition to Obama’s health care remake dropped dramatically in just a matter of weeks. Still, Americans remain divided over complex legislation that Democrats are advancing in Congress.

The public is split 40-40 on supporting or opposing the health care legislation, the poll found. An even split is welcome news for Democrats, a sharp improvement from September, when 49 percent of Americans said they opposed the congressional proposals and just 34 percent supported them.

Anger about health care boiled over during August. Lawmakers returning home for town hall meetings faced outcries that the government was trying to take over the system, ushering in higher costs, lower quality — even rationing and euthanasia.

The key, of course, is that last paragraph.

During the month of August and early September, the astroturfed "Tea Bagger Party" movement made significant inroads in the public dialogue about healthcare by making asses of themselves publicly.

Utilizing the rusty saw "the squeaky wheel gets the grease," these whiny cogs stalked and harassed public officials and raped the public dialogue.

This created an atmosphere where people were not only afraid to speak out in opposition to this brutal patriarchal behavior, but to even agree to abide with it, much like a kidnap victim eventually admires her captors.

No longer, and while I suspected this might turn around, the fact is, it happened so suddenly and with so little reaction from the Obama administration that I began to be concerned if in fact he was getting the point.

I guess he did. Strategically, he must have felt that no one was going to pay attention to him when they were going to the beach or the mountains, but that once he could command a prime time fall television audience, he'd begin to win back the folks who in their hearts want to see the country do better by doing good.

The key to this turnaround has been a full-court press to persuade older Americans that Medicare will not be endangered, and that an extension of Medicare-like coverage to all Americans would not be a bad thing.


Too, there's an energy aspect to this strategy: rage usually burns out quickly, leaving a deep-seated sense of embarrassment. Here, I think, is the underpinning to the turnaround in Obama's polling numbers, which sunk as low as Bush's in August 2001.

People just got tired of being angry. Anger is fear and fear is exhausting, and people want Obama to do well (despite the reprehensible and disgraceful cheer that arose when Chicago was eliminated by the IOC).

Too, I think middle Americans watched Glenn Beck all but spew venom with respect to Obama, watched as Tea Baggers all but lynched Obama in effigy (haven't seen that yet, so some credit has to be given the racist contingent), and watched the silliness over Obama's slightest move to relax, and just remembered the Moron-In-Chief who preceded him and said, "Hmmmmm, this is not the side I want to be on."

Kudos, Mr. President. You've done well.