Cynthia Tucker does a good job of cutting through all of the typical Villager opining about President Obama's poll numbers and with whom he is in or out of favor. When it comes down to it, what Americans are concerned about is jobs and the economy. It kills me to hear the others on the panel talk about what decisions our politicians are making purely in terms of the optics and whether the policy decisions being made are going to harm the President or either party politically, rather than as Tucker does, framing the discussion as to how those decisions are going to affect people's lives.
Howard Fineman and Norah O'Donnell also both seem to think that President Obama should have been able to work miracles with this economy given the obstructionist Senate he's got to deal with and fail to lay the blame for the slow recovery on the Republicans who did their best to make sure the stimulus was watered down. Jobs should be the number one priority for the Democratic Party if they don't want to get hammered this November. The Republicans are well aware of this and doing their best to make sure as many people suffer as possible if it helps get them reelected.
Cynthia Tucker was exactly right here. Voters aren't going to care if someone calls the President an "activist" if they see what he's doing improving their individual lives and they're able to work and take care of their families. The rest of the bunch are just having an exercise in Villager navel-gazing.
Matthews: First up, oh the irony of it all. President Obama is in poll trouble today because many in the center think he’s done too much. Since the inauguration, Obama’s lost ground with independents on whether he’s got the right policy to be President, down 21 points with independents, the true centrists. But here’s the irony or contradiction, he’s also dropped among the liberals. Nine points; they think he hasn’t done enough.
And how about the Republicans? Another irony. They’re pounding the President on policy but only 26% of voters think Republicans would make good decisions themselves.
Howard, it’s purgatory for the President isn’t it? He seems to be damned for doing too much by the center, damned for not doing enough by the liberals.
Fineman: Well, Chris, in talking to Democratic pollsters and people who work for the administration this week and other, it’s clear to me that Barack Obama is everywhere and nowhere at the same time.
He took on huge topics in terms of health care and the stimulus. Those are the two big things he took on legislatively and thousands of pages of legislation. But most of the American people have not seen on the ground results yet from either.
That’s disappointed the liberals on the one hand who wanted a more progressive agenda and disappointed those independents who judge things based on what they see on the stoop. They haven’t seen it out of Washington. So he’s visible but he’s not effective and that’s a deadly combination.
Matthews: Wow. Well, Norah, let’s talk about the moderates in the middle, the independents if you will; what is their problem?
O'Donnell: The independents think he’s done too much. Their top concern, the federal deficit and spending, and so they’re not happy about that. Independents in many ways were so angry at Bush they immediately wanted to vote for someone like Barack Obama. They wanted change. But they don’t like the kind of change that the President has brought in. Too much spending and that’s why we’ve seen this precipitous drop for the President among independents.
Matthews: Again, it’s probably the problem with the big spending and no jobs coming from it.
Matthews: Let’s go to this whole question. When the voters, based upon the polling and Howard’s been talking about it, everybody’s been thinking about it, when they think about Barack Obama in their minds eye, is he a typical Democrat, center left, a Mondale or a Clinton, a Dukakis, Jimmy Carter, or is he a man of the left? How’s he seen by the public?
Tucker: Well, Chris, it depends on which segment of the public you’re talking about. It’s clear that the right wing noise machine has done an excellent job of portraying the President as very far to the left…
Matthews: A Socialist even…
Tucker: …a Socialist. And so many Republicans certainly believe he as is far left as any President that we’ve ever had and there are a fair number of right leaning independents, people who previously identified as Republicans but they were sick of the Republican after the Bush administration. They now call themselves independents, but they’re still right leaning.
They don’t like any… they don’t like an activist government and let’s also remember though that one of the biggest problems that voters have is with the economy. That’s one of the reasons that people are so angry. And so many of those independents would have been more happy with the activism if they had seen it produce more jobs.