James McPherson's Media & Politics Blog

Observations of a patriotic progressive historian, media critic & former journalist

  • By the author of The Conservative Resurgence and the Press: The Media’s Role in the Rise of the Right and of Journalism at the End of the American Century, 1965-Present. A former journalist with a Ph.D. in journalism, history and political science, McPherson is a past president of the American Journalism Historians Association and a board member for the Northwest Alliance for Responsible Media.

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Watch out Mr. President, they’re polling again

Posted by James McPherson on February 20, 2009

A new CNN poll shows President Obama with an approval rating of 67 percent, down 9 percent from early this month. Most of the losses came from Republicans, who apparently during the past month figured out that their side lost, that Obama isn’t a Republican, and that he wouldn’t bow to their every whim. Still, even about a third of Republicans (along with 92 percent of Democrats) still approve of the job Obama is doing–after he’s been on the job all of one month. George Bush needed a terrorism attack to get numbers that high from the other side.

Put another way, the poll numbers are essentially meaningless at this point. There are several more big issues for Obama and Congress to tackle in the coming months, and Obama’s approval rating means almost nothing for most of the next two years–and only then to other Democrats who are running for election.

What will matter is the shape of the economy, and perhaps the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, some time down the road. Most Americans are willing to give the president they just elected a chance–after all, they waited out the Bush years without storming the White House, indicating a certain level of patience. What happens over the next few years, not what happens in the first 100 days of the Obama presidency, will determine whether he is later viewed as an FDR or a Hoover.

The CNN poll even shows that 60 percent of Americans approve of the just-passed stimulus bill–despite two Fox News lead story headlines today that read, “Resentment grows overpaying for others’ foreclosure misery,” and  “Watch out Mr. President, because we’re mad as hell!” The latter is an opinion piece written by Dan Gainor, vice president of the Business & Media Institute, an organization you’ve probably never heard of but which has an advisory board that includes representatives of the National Taxpayers Union, the Galen Institute, and Cato Institute, the founder of TechRepublican.com along with the author of a blog titled “The Conspiracy to Keep You Poor and Stupid.”

One of the highlights of that blog is a “joke of the day,” on which currently posted  jokes include versions that are anti-Obama, anti-Clinton and anti-Muslim. Despite that, author Donald Luskin still manages to get far too much air time as a talking head on various networks (including Fox, but also the so-called “liberal media.” Another indication of Fox writer Gainor’s political perspective is that his own organization’s biggest ad is one urging people to “join the fight” against the Fairness Doctrine (a fictional threat, as I’ve noted here and here).

Somehow I don’t think Gainor, BMI or Fox will become fans of Obama whatever he does. Having those folks “mad as hell” should be viewed as a good thing. So would a cessation of news organizations creating news through polls, though I don’t think that’s likely, either.

One other interesting note about the BMI, in light of the controversy over the New York Post monkey cartoon. Below is the cartoon (dated Feb. 11) that is now on that organization’s front page:



6 Responses to “Watch out Mr. President, they’re polling again”

  1. Hannah Stevens said

    It appears that the Republicans are going to try to sabotage the effort of President Obama in order to gain control so that they can finish the job of ruining the country that they started 30 some years ago. And if President Obama does fail so to does our country and we the middle class will be gone forever. I don’t know if you have noticed lately that your standard of living has dropped significantly in the last 8 years under the Republican rule. These are terrible times and the president has multiple messes on his hands given to him by the last administration. I have never in all my 69 years seen our country in such a mess. But instead of helping, they can only obstruct. And they don’t have any new ideas, only more tax cuts for the wealthy. I hope most of the people are on to them by now.

  2. empire said

    Obama sucks! It’s time to impeach!

  3. Luis Lopez said


    Impeach him for what, exactly?

  4. Denise Schwab said

    Time, give this president some time to work. It’s taken a lot longer than 30 days to drop the stock market to it’s lowest level, we aren’t going to recover in 30, 100 or 365 days.

    Everyone needs to step back and be patient.

  5. Fleeced said

    Not everyone in the middle class has lost in the last 8 years. I’m sorry you have, but people in stable industries and small business owners have done well.

  6. James McPherson said

    Thanks for the comments, all, though I assume that calling for impeachment of any president after only a month is a joke. It also seems to me that saying that “people in stable industries … have done well” is a bit like saying that “people who haven’t been sick have been healthy.” As for small businesses, some have done well, others have failed, and the record is mixed, at best.

    For example: “Under the Bush administration, the [Small Business Administration] has languished, and both its budget and staffing have been gutted. It’s flag-ship 7(a) lending to small businesses has also fallen off a cliff.” (http://www.businessweek.com/smallbiz/running_small_business/archives/2008/12/let_it_snowe_le.html)

    Also, “Since 2003, 15 federal investigations have found that Bush Administration officials have diverted billions of dollars in federal small business contracts to Fortune 500 firms and thousands of other large businesses in the U.S. and Europe” and, “The American Small Business League (ASBL) estimates that the Bush Administration diverted over $100 billion a year in federal small business contracts to large businesses,” and “In addition to diverting more than $800 billion in federal small business contracts to corporate giants, President Bush has attempted to systematically dismantle every federal program designed to assist small businesses including those firms owned by women, minorities and veterans.” (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lloyd-chapman/bush-administration-polic_b_159746.html)

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