Commentary Magazine


Tuning Out Obama

One problem among many that Obama has is that the public has learned not to take him seriously. Part of this problem, of course, stems form his overexposure. The urge to tune him out is inevitable when he is everywhere opining on everything from Cambridge race relations to basketball to global warming. (By the way, not much remarked upon but noteworthy was his snidely delivered defense of climate-control hysteria in the SOTU. This is not a man amenable to any course correction when confronted with new data that conflicts with old assumptions.) And part of the problem derives from repeating things that aren’t so. Americans don’t think we can cover millions more with expensive health care run by the government and save money doing so. They don’t buy that “engagement” is a credible policy with Iranian state sponsors of terror. They don’t think everything is George W. Bush’s fault.

So when Obama comes up with a plan that has a kernel of a good idea, the public isn’t interested. They assume he’s peddling snake oil. (Statistically, it’s not a bad bet.) Rasmussen reports:

One of the key new initiatives in President Obama’s State of the Union speech is a three-year freeze on discretionary government spending, but voters overwhelmingly believe the freeze will have little or no impact on the federal deficit. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just nine percent (9%) think the freeze will reduce the deficit a lot. Eighty-one percent (81%) disagree, including 42% who say it will have no impact. Another 39% say the freeze in nearly all areas except defense, national security, veterans affairs and entitlement programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security will reduce the deficit a little.

In other words, more than eight in ten think it’s not going to do much and more than four in ten say it’ll do nothing. Now, they don’t mind the idea. In fact a majority say “go ahead and do it.” But they are unwilling to be taken in by the bravado of this being a grown-up response to the spending spree that Obama and his Democrats have been on for a year. Meanwhile Obama’s overall approval rating continues its downward skid.

Unfortunately Obama seems oblivious to his credibility problem and exacerbates it by repeating untruths. The stimulus saved two million jobs. His health-care plan lets you keep your current  insurance. The Supreme Court is going to allow “foreign entities” to control elections. None of it is accurate. The public is learning not to trust their president. On one hand it is refreshing and heartening that Lincoln’s adage about fooling all of us is as true today as it was in the 19th century. But it’s more than a little disturbing and sad. We were hoping for a new kind of politician. Instead we got the very worst of the old.