The Obama juggernaut is fragmenting upon the jagged outcroppings of American popular resistance. Yes, his health care catastrophe might just pass Congress. Accounting gimmickry, rhetorical appeals to Americans’ most decent moral impulses, and $300 million bribes will do that for even the worst legislation. But the signs are all pointing toward a monumental collapse in public support for the president and his party.
Gallup polled Americans on health care reform the weekend the House passed its health care bill. The country was evenly split, with 41 percent saying the bill would make the health care situation better and 40 percent saying worse. But it was the next question that ought to have given Democrats pause. Asked how the bill would affect them personally, 36 percent said it would make their own health care situation worse. Only 26 percent said it would make things better for them.
A Rasmussen Reports poll released Monday found that only 38 percent of Americans support the Democrats’ health care reform plan. A solid majority of 56 percent opposed it.
Even worse for Obama, Gallup’s latest presidential job approval rating showed the president falling below 50 percent for the first time. Forty-nine percent approved of his performance; forty-four percent disapproved. The graph shows his approval numbers falling steadily since February, his disapproval numbers rising steadily.
A CBS News poll conducted days after the passage of the House health care bill found that Obama’s job approval among independents had fallen 21 percentage points since February (a third of that coming in the last month!) and is now at 45 percent. His disapproval rating among independents rose 28 percentage points, from 12 to 40.
The numbers were inevitable. A stridently liberal president, House speaker, and Senate majority leader governing a substantially conservative nation must tread lightly. Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are stomping — with their fingers plugging their ears to keep out the screams of the opposition that comprises a majority of the country but a minority of Congress.
Mistaking the country’s well-earned dissatisfaction with George W. Bush and momentary infatuation with Obama for an ideological realignment of historical proportions, Democrats in Washington dashed giddily forward with an unprecedented spree of deficit spending, economic meddling, entitlement expansion, and controlling regulation. The people they expected to greet them with cheers have recoiled in horror, or at least stopped in cold amazement.
A populace proud of itself for electing its first black president and still brimming with hope (yes, hope) and idealism at his inauguration 11 months ago is now shocked at the pace and breadth of his plans for “change.” Deficit spending at a higher rate than FDR or LBJ, middle class tax hikes, an unconstitutional mandate that all Americans buy health insurance. This is not what the good-hearted, middle-of-the-road Americans who elected this president thought they were voting for.
America’s government has changed. But America hasn’t. Obama (and Pelosi and Reid) have not grasped that. They operate under the delusion that the country is united behind their big-government agenda. They believe this even after an October Gallup poll reported that 40 percent of Americans self-identify as conservatives, 36 percent moderates and only 20 percent liberals.
A left-wing governing majority that ignores the polls, the protests, the tea parties, the taxpayer rallies, and the latest election results is an unexpected gift to the right. This is no Clinton administration. Governing from the middle and playing to the polls are not behaviors we’ve seen this year. The Obama team doesn’t seem to want to hold power indefinitely. It wants to enact its agenda as quickly as possible, under the apparent assumption (usually correct) that massive expansions of government power are never reversed.
But this is an extremely high-risk strategy. It works if the country is truly on your side. If not, the masses will revolt before you’ve had a chance to enact your full agenda.
Conservatives have the country. Obama has the government. Given Obama’s remarkably open and constant disdain for the people he was elected to govern, one can make an educated guess what their reaction will be the first time they have a chance to register their feelings at the ballot box.
For giving them such an unexpectedly early opportunity to correct the mistake they made last fall, the American people — especially conservatives — ought to be thankful for this president. He is an unapologetically aggressive liberal. For the right, that’s a good thing. It means there will be no blurring of the ideological lines in the next two elections.
Obama’s extreme liberalism allows the GOP to return to its core principles without fear of losing the middle. Come 2010, Americans will know (as long as Republicans don’t botch it) that they are choosing between the party that wants to remake America in the image of a European welfare state and the one that wants to expand freedom. Thanks to his overreaching, Obama might really have only two years to enact as much of his agenda as he can, not four or eight. This Thanksgiving, that is something for which conservatives ought to be deeply thankful.
Notice to Readers: The American Spectator and Spectator World are marks used by independent publishing companies that are not affiliated in any way. If you are looking for The Spectator World please click on the following link: https://thespectator.com/world.