By Dave Andrusko
What doesn’t this first sentence (from Gallup today) tell you? “Residents of 16 states and the District of Columbia gave President Obama approval ratings of 50% or higher during the first half of 2011, led by the District of Columbia, Connecticut, Maryland, and Delaware.” Well, perhaps that THIRTY FOUR states don’t? Talk about accentuating the positive.
But even these totals don’t do justice to Obama’s plight. These are cumulative numbers going back to January, as the Washington Examiner explained this morning.
“His numbers are surely worse than these totals indicate since Obama’s approval rating was markedly better in January than it is today,” writes the Examiner’s Conn Carroll. “On January 1st, Gallup measured Obama’s approval rating at 49 – 45 net positive. Today Obama’s rating is underwater at 42 – 50.”
Over the last several weeks we’ve blogged a number of times about Obama’s sagging fortunes, among Americans in general and especially among Independents. We’ve not talked much about incipient revolts among his supporters on the Left and far Left, but a word or two is merited today.
Written without pity by Emory University psychology professor Drew Westen, “What Happened to Obama?” ran in Sunday’s New York Times. Westen just tore into Obama for failing to sufficiently denounce Republicans—“bullies”—and for not providing we simpleton voters with” stories”—stories “with a particular structure, with protagonists and villains, a hill to be climbed or a battle to be fought.” And to be even more specific, as he writes near the end, Obama fails to furnish “the villain who caused the problem.”
This is of interest to us for three reasons. First, it is transparently untrue. That the President does not denunce his enemies vehemently enough for Weston doesn’t change that he habitually (and repetitiously) foists blame on others. He takes responsibility for nothing.
Second, if Obama is in trouble with his base, good.
Third, Prof. Weston tells us
Although I am a scientist by training, over the last several years, as a messaging consultant to nonprofit groups and Democratic leaders, I have studied the way voters think and feel, talking to them in plain language. At this point, I have interacted in person or virtually with more than 50,000 Americans on a range of issues, from taxes and deficits to abortion and immigration.
If among his chief complaints is that Obama has not sufficiently demonized those who disagree with him, what if the President takes him up on it and comes after people who really DO disagree with him? You and me.
Patricia Cohen, writing in the New York Times in 2007 [“Counseling Democrats to Go for the Gut”] summarized Westen’s approach best: “Aside from the scientific patina, part of Dr. Westen’s appeal to the party faithful, no doubt, is his smack-down comebacks that Democrats wish they had heard.”