Commentary Magazine


Is Anyone Pleased?

Michael Gerson has an intelligent, revealing, and troubling (for President Obama) column in today’s Washington Post. Mike didn’t vote for Obama, but he has certainly been fair-minded toward him, and in some respects, disposed to like him. But Obama, by his actions, is losing Gerson, week by week and decision by decision — as well as many other “establishment” figures and opinion shapers.

The list of those rethinking, to one degree or another, their views on Obama is by now almost too long to keep track of: Robert Samuelson, David Gergen, Stuart Taylor, Howard Fineman, David Brooks, Warren Buffet, William Galston, Maureen Dowd, Megan McArdle, and others. Not all of them have turned against Obama, but all of them are less favorable to him than they used to be.

Here’s a question to ask yourself: Do you know of anyone whose opinion of Obama is higher now than when he was elected or inaugurated? Is there anyone on Planet Earth who is saying, “Gee, I voted against Obama, but he’s sure doing a much better job than I thought we would”? Are there any moderates or Republicans slapping themselves on the head saying, “Boy, do I regret voting against Barack Obama”? They may be out there, but they are few and far between.

There are, of course, some people who were Obamaphiles before and still support him; what you don’t see are people who were marginal supporters or less vehement detractors, applauding his first seven weeks in office.

This is beginning to reflect in the polls, as Douglas Schoen and Scott Rasmussen lay out in today’s Wall Street Journal. But some things don’t show up very well in poll numbers, including disappointment, concern, and that sinking feeling of buyer’s remorse. We are witnessing political entropy in action. It’s still early, Obama is by no means unpopular, and things can improve. Of course, things can also get worse, and the downward slide can accelerate. Obama’s fate depends on events yet to unfold. We can only analyze this moment in time. But for now, a little more than 50 days into the Age of Obama, America’s 44th President has reasons to be concerned. His support, rather than congealing, is weakening. And if his prescription to fix the economy is wrong, as so many economists now believe, the lack of confidence in Obama will only deepen.