Tales from the Trail

Is Obama a party animal? U.S. political trends make it so

January 25, 2010

The folks at Gallup say Barack Obama is easily the most ‘polarized’ first-year president of the postwar era — and they’re not talking about pre-digital camera snapshots.
    
They mean that Obama, like his immediate predecessors,  is the object of growing partisanship within American public opinion.
OBAMA/
Obama finished his first year in office on Jan. 19 with an 88 percent job approval rating among Democrats but only 23 percent approval among Republicans.
    
That leaves a 65-percentage-point gap between the two partisan lines, eclipsing the previous first-year polarization record of 52 points, held by Democrat Bill Clinton.
    
If Obama’s numbers don’t change, he will exceed Republican George W. Bush as the most polarized of post-World War II presidents. (Over the course of Bush’s presidency, Republicans and Democrats were 61 points apart on average.)
    
But there’s something more afoot than the individual horse races.
    
Gallup says its findings illustrate an upswing in voter partisanship since the time of Republican Ronald Reagan. Before the 1980s, partisan approval gaps ranged from a low of 19 percent for Democrat Lyndon Johnson to a high of 34 percent for Republican Richard Nixon.
    
“Obama — like his immediate predecessor Bush — sought to bring Americans together after periods of heightened political polarization in the United States. But despite their best intentions and efforts, both men’s approval ratings have been characterized by extreme partisanship,” Gallup said.
    
“The way Americans view presidents has clearly changed in recent decades, perhaps owing to the growth in variety, sources and even politicization of news on cable television and the Internet, and the continuing popularity of politically oriented talk radio.”

Clinton says Haiti’s development prospects can still be good

January 15, 2010

Former President Bill Clinton, who is helping to coordinate global relief for Haiti with former President George W. Bush, CLIMATE/COPENHAGEN-BILLCLINTONsays the quake-stricken country could bounce back much more quickly than people might think.

Bomb plot thrusts Obama into political storm

January 4, 2010

President Barack Obama is weathering a political storm over last month’s suspected al Qaeda plot to bomb a Detroit-bound plane, particularly from Republicans who say he dropped the ball on security while pursuing healthcare and climate reforms. But how much substance there is behind the allegations may depend on who’s talking.

The First Draft: White House takes a lonely road to openness on Crasher-gate

December 3, 2009

President Barack Obama’s senior adviser, Valerie Jarrett, feels the White House doesn’t need Congress to help it maintain openness on the Crasher-gate scandal. That’s why it’s chosen to eschew the limelight of a Capitol Hill hearing today. USA/

Obama nominates Bush spokeswoman to broadcast board

November 19, 2009

She represented President George W. Bush before the world’s media and now is a commentator for Fox News. And she’s been quite a vocal critic of the current White House. USA/

Obama admits to mistakes, but no big ones

November 10, 2009

Barack Obama says he probably makes one mistake a day, but doesn’t think he has made any fundamental ones in almost 10 months as president of the United States.

The First Draft: Jobs (not), Jobs (not), Jobs (not)

November 6, 2009

The October employment report is in and it’s a shocker.

The unemployment rate jumped to 10.2 percent, the highest since April 1983 when it was also 10.2 pct. If you don’t want to do the math, that was 26 years ago. It was worse than expectations for 9.9 percent. TEXAS-SHOOTING/SOLDIER

Victory for Karzai, minefield for Obama?

November 2, 2009

Former President George W. Bush used to talk about the “soft bigotry of low expectations.” He was talking about education in the United States.

Obama tells critics to “grab a mop”

October 21, 2009

President Barack Obama fired back on Tuesday at conservative critics who say he has not accomplished enough in his first nine months in office.

The First Draft: What was the Nobel committee thinking?

October 9, 2009

OBAMA/Even before sunrise in Washington, tongues were wagging over the Norwegian Nobel Committee’s choice of President Barack Obama to receive this year’s Nobel Peace Prize. And the big question — aside from whether a first-term president in his ninth month in office has done enough to deserve the award — was, what was the committee thinking?