View From Lodi, CA Pittsburgh, PA: Obama—A Great Short Sell!
April 24, 2009, 05:00 AM
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A few weeks ago, I wagered a friend that President Barack Obama`s popularity rating would drop below 50 percent by Easter Sunday.

I lost that bet, even though on specific Obama policies—like his $4 trillion federal budget or how he handled the firing of General Motors President and Chief Executive Officer Rick Wagoner—he should have been vulnerable to a questioning public.

In particular, firing Wagoner galled me. I view it as Obama`s message to capitalists: "I`m going to crush you."

After all, Obama knows nothing about the auto industry, has never worked in any kind of corporation and has no Constitutional authority to fire a private sector executive.

Although Obama proceeds unscathed if he were a common stock listed on one of the exchanges, I would short sell him.

He`s peaked and I anticipate that Obama`s downhill slide will be sharp

At the moment, Obama enjoys a relatively high public approval rating, slightly over 60 percent. That`s no doubt comforting to him and his ardent supporters—the Obama Zombies I wrote about a month ago.

But when viewed from a historical perspective, Obama is only about where he should be.

According to William McInturff, a Republican pollster who is co-director of The Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, Republicans Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush were in the same range early in their presidencies. 

But—perhaps ominously for Obama—Democrat Jimmy Carter actually had a short-lived 75 percent approval rating in a Roper Center polling conducted in early 1977. Today Carter, nearly than thirty years after he left the White House, is scorned as one of the nation`s worst presidents. [Risks Lurk in Obama Poll Ratings, by Gerald F. Seib, Wall Street Journal, March 18, 2009)

What Obama has going for him, but may be squandering as he literally embraces America`s enemies like Hugo Chavez, is that nearly 70 percent feel good about him personally. In other words, Obama has built up a reservoir of good will. But pollsters are convinced it will empty out soon because Obama`s policies are not as popular as his persona.

The same WSJ/NBC News poll found that a smaller share of people – 54 percent — say they are "extremely" or "quite" confident that the president has identified the right goals even though they question Obama`s objectives.

McInturff and Peter Hart, a Democratic pollster who also oversees the Journal/NBC News poll, wrote in an analysis that it is noteworthy that confidence levels are lower "among groups that are likely to drift away from him eventually", like rural areas, small towns and senior citizens where the initial excitement about Obama`s stimulus and budget plans has evaporated.

Asked which criticisms of the stimulus package most concern them, 36 percent of respondents say: "too much pork-barrel spending," and 21 percent add: "does not provide enough tax cuts to individual taxpayers."

And in the highest negative, 61 percent of Americans are worried that the government might spend too much money in its effort to boost the economy.

These have been the consistent sentiments of Republicans and moderate Democrats that now are gaining ground among a wider range of Obama supporters where optimism has been, until recently, running high.

Doug Schoen, another Democratic political consultant, calls these trends "huge warning lights."

The variable over the next few months is how much patience Americans will show in its new, untested leader. McInturff found that Americans expect the recession to last for two years. But he also sensed that the country would only be willing to wait ten months, at the outside, for signs of an economic recovery.

For the time being, what`s sustaining Obama is hope and Republican aimlessness. G.O.P. leaders are furious about Obama`s huge spending, the nation`s deficits and the overall trend toward socialism he`s imposed on the country.

But Republicans would do well to remember that without George W. Bush, Obama never would have become president.

Only eight years of Bush could have persuaded Americans to elect a one-term Senator who during his brief tenure compiled Congress` most liberal voting record.

Now the bill, complete with its expensive price tag, has been presented to a nation increasingly unwilling to pay it.

Joe Guzzardi [email him] is a California native who recently fled the state because of over-immigration, over-population and a rapidly deteriorating quality of life. He has moved to Pittsburgh, PA where the air is clean and the growth rate stable. A long-time instructor in English at the Lodi Adult School, Guzzardi has been writing a weekly column since 1988. It currently appears in the Lodi News-Sentinel.