Tales from the Trail

Obama plays to disaffected audience but most don’t blame him

USA-HEALTHCARE/OBAMA

When President Obama reaches the podium for tonight’s State of the Union address, he’ll turn to a TV audience fed up with Washington and its incessant partisan bickering. But guess what: most viewers won’t be blaming him.
    
More than 90 percent of the American public thinks there’s too much partisan infighting and 70 percent say the federal government isn’t working well, according to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.
    
But who’s the culprit? Only 27 percent blame the president. The biggest target of public disaffection are Republicans in Congress — at 48 percent — followed by congressional Democrats at 41 percent.  Conducted Jan. 23-25, the survey of 800 adults has a 3.5 percent margin of error.
    
If the numbers are accurate, Obama’s message may find a fair amount of audience sympathy, particularly for his much-anticipated emphasis on jobs, the economy and curbs on Wall Street’s excesses.
    
Nearly three-quarters say not enough has been done to regulate Wall Street and the banking industry, while 51 percent want more emphasis on economic matters than they’ve seen up to now.
    
In fact, poll respondents are fairly optimistic about Obama’s future, with 54 percent saying he is facing either a short-term setback or no setback at all. There are even signs that his overall job approval rating has begun to edge up.

Photo credit: Reuters/Jason Reed (Obama)

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Gallup poll gives Obama some good news on terrorism issue

President Barack Obama’s approval ratings may have slipped in some polling data. But there’s a tiny bit of good news for him on an issue that his Republican critics have been whacking away at for weeks now: terrorism. USA HEALTHCARE/

A USA Today/Gallup poll says public approval for Obama’s handling of terrorism has risen since the Christmas Day bomb attempt, with more Americans than not giving him their approval on a political issue likely to rank high in this year’s congressional election campaign.

The numbers still aren’t great for the president, however. The thumbs up comes from less than half of the public — 49 percent – and those expressing disapproval are close behind at 46 percent. That three-point gap is well within the Jan. 8-10 survey’s 4 percentage point sampling error. Approval is also way down from May, when 55 percent of Americans endorsed his handling of terrorism.

Muddy manse

Selling your house? Worried about having to lower the price to get it to move?

How about a $1.275 million price reduction? That’s how much former Fannie Mae CEO Daniel H. Mudd had to cut the asking price on his 11,500 square foot, six bedroom, six full bath (plus three half baths) mansion to find a buyer.  Originally listed for $8.9 million on September 11, the transaction closed on December 11 for $7.625 million.

 

Don’t worry too much for Mr. Mudd, though. He paid $5.15 million for the place in June 2000, leaving him with a 48 percent return on his investment, excluding any renovation costs. And even though he was booted from Fannie Mae when the government took over the housing giant in September 2008 and reportedly wasn’t paid his multi-million dollar severance package, he’s landed on his feet. New York’s Fortress Investment Group named him CEO in August.

 

Wondering what you could have bought from the son of the former NBC News anchor Roger Mudd? Here’s the listing agent’s description:

Deficit not my fault, Obama says

President Barack Obama doesn’t like all this flak from the Republicans who accuse him of running up the budget deficit.

OBAMA/Any why should he? His approval rating has dropped below 50 percent in at least two recent polls and you can assume the poor economy has something to do with it.

At his big speech at the Brookings Institution today, Obama said it was not his fault, that the $787 billion stimulus plan that he and his Democrats pushed through Congress is “only a very small part of our current budget imbalance” and that he inherited a $1.3 trillion deficit.

Official Washington dreams of breaking out of the bubble

OBAMA/Many in Washington dream of it, few manage it.

But for the President of the United States, it is just about impossible.

We’re talking about breaking out of the bubble.

The presidency is probably the biggest bubble in town. Think about the surrounding layers: physical protection from the Secret Service, political protection from senior aides and ego protection from a multitude of sycophants.

So it caught our ear when President Barack Obama broke away from his prepared remarks for an economic speech today and talked about the difficulty of escaping the bubble.

LITHUANIA/“Sometimes it’s hard to break out of the bubble here in Washington and remind ourselves that behind these statistics are people’s lives, their capacity to do right by their families,” Obama said as he recalled a recent trip to Allentown, Pennsylvania, where he met people at a job center.

What trumps a car bomb, a blizzard and a trip to Kabul?

GOLF-PGA/If you watched U.S. morning television or went online early today, you already know the answer to this media riddle. Top stories — a deadly car-bombing in Baghdad, a massive winter storm rolling across the United States and an unannounced flight to Afghanistan by Defense Secretary Robert Gates – took a back seat to a new development in the tabloid tale of Tiger Woods.

The latest turn in the super-golfer’s travails occurred overnight, when a Florida television station reported an unidentified woman was taken by ambulance from Woods’ home to a nearby hospital.

WESH-TV showed footage of a blond woman on a stretcher.

UPDATE: The woman wheeled out of  Woods’ home was identified as his mother-in-law, who was suffering from stomach pains.

Student lightbulb for Obama: use stimulants to stimulate economy

EU-ENERGY/LIGHT-BULBSA student in Pennsylvania offered President Barack Obama a way to boost the economy that probably hasn’t been on the table at the White House.

“Mr. Obama, I really appreciate how you’re trying to stimulate the economy to help this country out,” the second-year student began in addressing the president on his visit to Allentown.

Then he noted that in college he had been studying “some criminology…”

The First Draft: should Obama embrace new structural reforms?

Sen. Christopher Dodd of Connecticut and Columbia University economist Jeffrey Sachs are two guys who think President Barack Obama better embrace new structural reforms if he wants a growing economy that isn’t hard-wired to go bust.

Dodd, a Democrat fighting for his political life at home, proposed sweeping regulatory legislation this week that would curb the Federal Reserve’s bank oversight powers, strengthen consumer protection and keep a sharp eye out for systemic problems like housing or stock market bubbles.

The 1,136-page measure reflects Obama’s policies in some ways — for example, it supports the White House call for a Consumer Financial Protection Agency — but it also charts new regulatory waters.

“What we have (now) is a hodgepodge that has grown over the last 80 years, some of it dating to the 19th century and early 20th century regulatory structures,” Dodd told MSNBC.