Tales from the Trail

Reuters/Ipsos poll: Majority says U.S. on wrong track

A large majority of Americans say the United States is on the wrong track and nearly half believe the worst is yet to come, according to a  Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Wednesday.

The poll reflects growing anxiety about the economy and frustration with Washington after a narrowly averted government default,  a credit rating downgrade by Standard & Poor’s, a stock market dive and a 9.1 percent jobless rate.

The Reuters/Ipsos poll  — conducted from last Thursday to Monday — found 73 percent of Americans believe the United States is “off on the wrong track,” and just one in five, 21 percent, think the country is headed in the right direction.

The survey found that 47 percent believe “the worst is yet to come” in the U.S. economy, an increase of 13 percentage points from a year ago when this question was last raised.

President Barack Obama was politically bruised in the brutal debt ceiling debate and negative views on the economy are worrisome signs for his 2012 re-election bid. His approval rating dropped to 45 percent from 49 percent a month ago.

Washington Extra – The finer things in life

lamarIf I come back in my next life as an American, I am thinking that a career in the Senate might be a better way to go than in the administration or the military. Whatever you think of their political views, the senators who have visited our offices for the Washington Summit this week have not just been charming and interesting to talk to, they also seem to have time for the finer things in life. Take Senator Lamar Alexander, who not only has the time to watch Tennessee football pretty regularly, but also likes to play classical piano and has a date on center stage with the Jackson Symphony at the end of next month. “I try to keep a balanced life,” he said.

gibbsNo such luck for hard-pressed administration types, working at a pace that White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs says “is and has been grueling for a long period of time,” especially if you take two years of campaigning into account. Take Austan Goolsbee, who used to compete in the triathlon, but now has no time to train and jokes he is so out of shape he can’t walk up the stairs without gasping for breath. Or General David Petraeus, who is already at work by 5:30 in the morning, and when he goes to bed around 10 or 11 at night, only manages a couple of pages in whatever book he is reading “before it falls on the floor.”

That grueling pace is one reason, Gibbs argued, why many members of Obama’s economic team and political inner circle are on their way out, to spend a bit more time “with their family and their friends.” It is not, as Goolsbee insisted, an acknowledgment that the administration has made mistakes, or that it needs to change direction.