Obama’s ultimate indignity: Bush seen as more competent

By Bill Schneider
June 10, 2014


Agreement is not enough.  Performance matters more.

That’s why the outlook for Democrats this November looks bleak.  More and more Americans now agree with Democrats on the issues.  But they are increasingly dismayed by President Barack Obama’s inability to get results.

The Gallup poll reports that, ideologically, Americans are moving to the left on both social and economic issues. Though more Americans continue to identify as conservatives than as liberals, the conservative advantage is shrinking.

In 2010, for example, which saw a huge backlash against Obama, self-described economic conservatives outnumbered economic liberals by 36 points. Every year since, the conservative lead has gotten smaller. It’s now 21 points.

fire obamaOn social issues, the conservative lead has virtually disappeared. It was 17 points in 2010. It’s now 4 points.  “This movement is consistent with trends Gallup has seen on specific issues,” the polling organization reports, “most notably Americans’ views toward gay rights and legalizing marijuana.”

If public opinion trends favor Democrats, why are they facing a setback in this year’s midterm elections? Because voters are deeply dissatisfied with Obama’s performance. He hasn’t delivered. When it comes time to vote, performance counts more than agreement.

That distinction explains a puzzling finding in the polls. On issues where voters agree with Obama, they give him low ratings.  Take gun control.  Most voters support Obama’s call for background checks for gun purchasers.  But last year, he couldn’t get a bill through the Senate. In this month’s CNN poll, 64 percent of Americans say they disapprove of Obama’s handling of gun policy.

Voters also agree with the president on immigration reform. His rating on handling illegal immigration? Sixty-one percent disapproval. Helping the middle class?  Fifty-eight percent negative.

In foreign affairs, Obama is doing essentially what the public wants in Syria, Ukraine and Afghanistan. We’re not militarily involved in Syria or Ukraine and we’re withdrawing troops from Afghanistan. More than three-quarters of Americans support the withdrawal, according to the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll.  Nonetheless, Obama gets a 57 percent negative rating on foreign affairs.

Obama may be doing what people want, but they’re not satisfied with the outcome. No gun control law, no immigration reform, no economic boom, no impact on events in Syria or Ukraine, no marked improvement in the security situation in Afghanistan.

Instead, everywhere the president turns, he’s facing controversy — on the Bowe Bergdahl prisoner-of-war swap, on the Benghazi episode, on veterans’ healthcare.  Obamacare may be working, but it’s still broadly unpopular. Coal-state Democrats are in open rebellion against the president’s new environmental regulations. “We have to quit putting out fires,” a Democratic senator told the New York Times.

bush in NOThe ultimate indignity?  George W. Bush is now seen as a more competent president than Obama (by 48 to 42 percent in a Fox News poll).  According to the Washington Post, the public has “long viewed ‘getting things done’ as more of a Bush thing than an Obama thing.”

Don’t they remember Hurricane Katrina? Weapons of mass destruction and the war in Iraq? Maybe. But they also remember Bush as a president of immense resolve. Bush’s resolve eventually morphed into stubbornness — but he was never less than sure of himself. By comparison, Obama seems ineffectual.

President Jimmy Carter was often called ineffectual in the 1970s. The Iranian hostage crisis, inflation, gas lines, recession — he didn’t seem to be able to do anything about them. Like Carter, Obama can’t seem to catch a break. At least not since the brilliantly successful Osama bin Laden raid three years ago.

The comparison with Carter may be unfair. Carter never had to face a Republican Congress or a Tea Party revolt. The political situation is much tougher for Obama. Gridlock has become the rule. And it’s not likely to get better anytime soon.

Look closely at the Gallup trends on ideology and you see that the country has become more liberal mostly because rank-and-file Democrats have become more liberal. Republicans have not changed much.  If anything, Republicans have become more conservative on economic issues since Obama took office. But they are smaller in number than Democrats. The distance between the parties has been growing so fast it’s in danger of becoming unbridgeable.

obama & boehnerWhich is why the only way Obama can get anything done is by bypassing Congress — as he did on the new climate change regulations and on the prisoner-of-war exchange. In each case, setting a new fire.

Don’t voters understand that Obama has to deal with an impossible political situation? Don’t they blame Congress for the stalemate? Actually, they do.

Congress’s ratings are far worse than Obama’s. But that doesn’t get the president off the hook. His job is to get things done — no matter how difficult the political situation.

Didn’t President Ronald Reagan work with a Democratic Congress? Yes, but Democrats then were not nearly as hostile to Reagan as Republicans now are to Obama.

Bottom line? People are likely to vote for Republicans this year even though they don’t agree with Republicans on most issues. Two years from now, it will be different.

In the 2016 presidential election, there won’t be an incumbent on the ballot and voters will face a stark choice between two candidates. That’s when ideological issues will come into focus. And when the Democrats’ advantage on the issues is likely to materialize.


PHOTO (TOP): George W. Bush: REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson; Barack Obama REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

PHOTO (INSERT 1): A man holds a sign outside the Arizona State Capitol during a pro-gun and Second Amendment protest in Phoenix, Arizona, January 19, 2013. REUTERS/Joshua Lott

PHOTO (INSERT2 ): President George W. Bush looks at the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina in Biloxi, Mississippi, September 2, 2005. REUTERS/Larry Downing

PHOTO (INSERT 2): House Speaker John Boehner (L) walks away as President Barack Obama waves upon his departure from the annual Friends of Ireland luncheon at the Capitol in Washington, March 14, 2014. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque


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A Fox news poll?? Whoops, You’re fly is open HACK.


Posted by Mac20nine | Report as abusive

“The comparison with Carter may be unfair” Of course it is, why would you insult Carter like that, even as bad as he was.

Posted by BeRealistic | Report as abusive

“Obama’s ultimate indignity: Bush seen as more competent”

You provide no evidence. It’s a headline without facts supporting it in the article.

Here is a standard fox technique.
In this month’s CNN poll, 64 percent of Americans say they disapprove of Obama’s handling of gun policy. Meaning that 36 like what he is doing while the 64 is split between those that think he doesn’t go far enough and those that oppose any action on guns. So let’s say that 20% don’t think he goes fare enough. Then one could say that the majority of people are for increased gun laws for safety reasons. Do you see the lie? Sure a lawyer wouldn’t call it that, but the rest of do. You have misrepresented the reality for the purposes of manipulation. A better statement is that the majority of americans support stronger gun laws. That is a fact.

They did this same thing on the ACA. FOX said that most americans don’t like the ACA, but that again doesn’t adequately describe the reality. The majority of americans agree with the ACA or think it doesn’t go far enough. Or, if you want, you can say that the majority of the american people disagree with the tea party and the GOP on health care. Now, that is a fact without spin.

Posted by brotherkenny4 | Report as abusive

Well, as the saying goes, nothing succeeds like success, but I would take these polls with a grain of salt.

For example, how does one know that the public is happy with what Obama is doing if it isn’t happy with the results? Isn’t such a distinction sort of splitting hairs?

If the public says it doesn’t want the U.S. to be involved in the Syria problem, that doesn’t mean the public won’t be unhappy with the approach if the Syria problem then remains unresolved, festers and creates more problems. That’s the thing about polls. They are only a snapshot of people’s views, not a videotape.

People want the president to lead and help resolve problems they do not fully understand. That’s what they hired him for, not to stick a wet finger to the wind to see which way it’s blowing at any given moment in time.

Posted by Calfri | Report as abusive

brotherkenny4: Most people don’t agree with the individual mandate part of the ACA. Democrats lost the House in I believe it was 2010, most likely because of that.

Posted by Calfri | Report as abusive

Poor Obama. Congress is so mean to him! Well Clinton had a Republican Congress. Both houses, meaning he didn’t have Harry Reid refusing to schedule whatever the House passed. But Clinton would talk to people. He would call people. Obama doesn’t. And recall that when he took office he had both houses. And did little. Remember that when he talks about immigration reform. He could have had that in 2009. Gay marriage? “I’m evolving,” he said. Biden outed him. Syria? Red line? Dead babies?
A thought for the reader. The Tea Party so-called is strictly economic. Pot smokers and gay couples welcome. So the Leftward tilt of the public on gay marriage and pot will not affect them. The VA scandal and our spiraling debt and pitiful recovery will.

Posted by lemonfemale | Report as abusive

The United States of America is at the greatest risk in history of being destroyed from the inside out by a hell bent global terrorist “posing as the president” of the United States of America. We have a radical, lawless, arrogant, evil, and globally disrespected POTUS in power.

Posted by BobbyC. | Report as abusive

an ignorant & greedy electorate will elect …….so on and so forth.

Posted by rikfre | Report as abusive

lemonfemale, Clinton didn’t have a congress waiting for him to get out of office so would rather do nothing until they can win in 2012 oh we meant 2016. They still had earmarks and were willing to deal. Today’s Repubs see no reason to deal. They have no earmarks and their constituents wouldn’t value them if they did. As for him having both houses he used it wisely. He used it to try to pass a comprehensive overhaul of a major American sector and did. He tried to handle it like a statesmen, asking the opinion of the opposition, changing parts to bring them along then signing a bill they would join. Instead their only answer was no. When he evolved he joined the vast majority of Americans. As for the TP being strictly economic you sure couldn’t tell that from the crowds they draw and the stances their adherents take.

Posted by DaudM | Report as abusive

His own people are dissatisfied with him, because his own people expect things that can’t be done… and he tells them they will be. That’s what happens when you make promises to people who are irrational. People who liked him never want the US to get involved whatsoever, militarily overseas… Unrealistic, impossible to achieve. People want guns outlawed… Unrealistic, impossible to achieve. People want tons of freebies, but no higher taxes… Unrealistic and impossible to achieve.

Moral… Don’t vote for people because they promise you the sky. Then you won’t have to be disappointed.

Posted by dd606 | Report as abusive

“Performance matters more.” – Bill, are you kidding?
Bush’s performance has a special term nowadays, it is called The Great Recession.
Obama’s main “weakness” is that he’s well ahead of his time in terms of his humanity and humility. Saving Bowe Bergdahl despite all the political risks involved is just the latest proof of it.

Posted by UauS | Report as abusive

I never really cared much for GW Bush, but I’d rather have him back in office over this clown.

Posted by Voter1011 | Report as abusive

When your misleading headline is derived from a Faux News poll, how can you expect anyone to read further? Bush spent a trillion dollars on an unnecessary (to put it very simply) war, drove the US–and the world economy to the brink of collapse, and polarized the nation to such a point that no one remains on middle ground, therefore nothing useful can be accomplished by congress. Get a clue, Reuters.

Posted by Auxark | Report as abusive

bush during his second term, withdrew and did almost nothing…but, at least, in the first term, he worked with both sides of congress…Obama seems like a petulant child..its all my way, or the highway…he has been shown the highway soo many times, he now skirts our laws, to unilaterally get what HE wants done..he is a horrible unqualified president, whom should be impeached as soon as possible….

Posted by sabrefencer | Report as abusive

“How does one expect this President to get anything done when there is no negotiation? ”

The thing about negotiation, is that it requires both sides to, you know, negotiate. Not just one.

Posted by Yashmak | Report as abusive

I think the author has it wrong. Polls indicate a more left leaning population, but left leaning does not mean people want things accomplished by forcing them through, by throwing out established government process, by breaking the law or through scandalous behavior. People expect the president to be above reproach, whether Democrat or Republican. This president is not only NOT above reproach, he is a leading example of what a president should never be.

Posted by bluewater23000 | Report as abusive

I feel my sense of hope for America waning. Americans continue to prove themselves to be the lowest hanging fruit on the planet. They just can’t figure things out, and if you can’t do that, what hope is there?

The Republican modus operandi is to do everything in their power to cause Democratic Presidents to fail. What it means to the country as a whole and our future is immaterial. They’ve got carte blanche to do whatever they want with impunity. They’re never held responsible. They can set up a President for impeachment by investigating him for personal matters within legal parameters, and then impeach him for using a lawyerly turn of phrase to avoid admitting that he got a blow job. They can cozen the nation into a major war on fabricated grounds with little to no oversight. They allow titans of industry to design laws made specifically to maximize industry profits at the expense of the American public. And they can get away with opposing everything tried by a duly elected Democratic President so to render him ineffective. They will pull the same crap on each and every future Democratic President until enough of the low hanging fruit is picked and convinced that a “change” in leadership is the answer. Then we’ll get another disastrous 8 years like we did with Dubya. Then they’ll blame the next Democrat who will have to focus on cleaning up the Republicans’ mess again. Goodbye, America. Goodbye.

Posted by carnivalchaos | Report as abusive

Democratic voters: We want more, more, more, and we want it now!
Republican voters: What you want is mine, mine, mine, and you can’t have it!
The battle rages on.

Posted by jim.e.k. | Report as abusive

There will again hope for America as soon as we get rid of Obama. On the contrary, Americans are very good at figuring things out. Who are all these great Democratic Presidents. Obama? Corrupt and incompetent and unqualified. Clinton? Corrupt to the core. 100K bribe from ADM, millions in bribes from Mark Rich, a Jewish crook who took all of his illegal money to Israel. Carter? Thank him for creating the Dept of Ed, one of the biggest money wasting dept’s in government. He also gave away the Panama Canal.

Posted by p19 | Report as abusive

“Because voters are deeply dissatisfied with Obama’s performance. He hasn’t delivered. When it comes time to vote, performance counts more than agreement.”

I am deeply dissatisfied with Obama’s inability to foster agreement amongst his constituents that leads to universal positive change of what needs to be changed and protection and promotion of other tenets that are universally sound and applicable in our modern society.

As The President of The United States of America, agreement=performance and that’s all that should be in the job description.

Posted by voelker1 | Report as abusive

The comments about the Republicans trying to block Obama’s programs is actually funny. It’s not like the Democrats didn’t try to block any Republican Presidents programs….. Seriously???

The mark of a good President is their ability to persuade, cajole, pressure or otherwise bend the opposition to follow him.

Posted by SR37212 | Report as abusive

The rightwing comments on here have defined the strategy for both parties from this point forward: Do everything within your power to undermine any President from the opposition party. Then argue that he/she was a bad President because he/she didn’t get much done. Brilliant! That will serve our country well. The future looks bright.

Here’s an idea. The Party that proves to be willing to work with the opposition party, proves to be willing to compromise and put the nation first, they shall earn the right to be the majority party and to win the Presidency. And for the party that refuses to do their job in our democracy, they should be voted out of office until they learn to be responsible stewards of our Republic, a Republic build on democratic principles. That makes a lot more sense.

Posted by carnivalchaos | Report as abusive

I have never heard of more nonsense; they want President Obama to manage the crisis in Iraq, that was squarely the
fault of the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld trio.I believe, that
Cheney who is a competent War man, can now reenter the fray in Iraq and work with mercenaries, and this time around
divide the country into Shia, Sunni and OIl interest provinces.That would be better than sending more American soldiers into the inferno known as Iraq.

Posted by loiters21 | Report as abusive

Perception is 9/10ths of Gallup’s business. But the Gallup organization’s ability to provide legitimate deductions has been sorely lacking for years.

Posted by StevenMitchell1 | Report as abusive

Much of the opposition to Obama originates with the color of his skin, so the standards for his accomplishments and their measurement have had the bar raised. I am not sure that it is fair to compare oil with water.

Posted by StevenMitchell1 | Report as abusive

whomever thinks Bush was an okay leader is high on crack cocaine. bush was nothing but a complete PUPPET. he didn’t lead for one second. anything that occurred during his tenure was passed to him by large corporations and the general republican party. The man doesn’t even speak with educated English.

Obama on the other hand is thinking for himself and trying to solve problems with new ideas. i am not saying that he is a good leader…just that he is an intelligent person thinking outside the box. trying to change our lives for the better.

Posted by BaiJiuUSA | Report as abusive

@ StevenMItchell1
there are 2 things happening with regards to Obama’s skin color.

1)The racist viewpoint.. “how can a black man be the president of the USA” and all the negative squabbling that runs parallel to it.

2) The fear that the White Man is losing its power in the USA. Exactly identical to the situation of MaoZeDong in China. The people in power (rich white repubs) strike fear and chaos into the subordinate population (USA minority), in hopes they continue to feel inadequate and of no social/economic value.

Their problem … and our solution….
the USA is still controlled by voting power.
regarding the entire USA population, the percentage of ignorant WHite people is decreasing…there are not many people left to follow the fake facade of the republican kingdom. there own believers are leaving.

Posted by BaiJiuUSA | Report as abusive