Friday, June 19, 2009

Why is Obama Popular If His Policies Aren't?

The NYT reports:

A substantial majority of Americans say President Obama has not developed a strategy to deal with the budget deficit, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll, which also found that support for his plans to overhaul health care, rescue the auto industry and close the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, falls well below his job approval ratings.

A distinct gulf exists between Mr. Obama’s overall standing and how some of his key initiatives are viewed, with fewer than half of Americans saying they approve of how he has handled health care and the effort to save General Motors and Chrysler. A majority of people said his policies have had either no effect yet on improving the economy or had made it worse, underscoring how his political strength still rests on faith in his leadership rather than concrete results

Something that's always bothered me about the American system is that it seems politicians can repeatedly curry favor with the public without actually implementing policies they like. It's incredibly personality-based.

I mean, it's great that we have a President that can form complete sentences again, and who looks cool in sunglasses and apparently has razor sharp reflexes, but it's not really about him as a person. It's about his policies.

While some have pointed out that this particular polling may not be the most accurate representation of public will on Obama's policies, I think the trend still seems to hold over all of recent American history. Politicians who enact policies the public oppose still manage to be popular. I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that political discussion in this country has so little do with actual policy -- you know, the sort of "Bush is a guy you'd want to have a beer with" stuff that ignores what the political figure is actually doing for the country.