Obama Paying A Political Price For The Oil Spill Crisis
A new Gallup poll seems to indicate that President Obama is beginning to pay a political price for what many are perceiving as a lack of an aggressive response to the Gulf oil spill:
WASHINGTON, D.C. — With President Barack Obama and BP taking their most aggressive steps yet in response to the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the majority of Americans express clear displeasure with their efforts so far.
Americans’ dissatisfaction with BP’s efforts is particularly strong. Looking at the extreme responses, 39% of Americans earlier this week called BP’s response “very poor” compared to 21% for the federal government and 19% for Obama. “Very good” ratings were almost non-existent for all three players — with 11% saying so about Obama’s efforts, compared with 6% for BP and 5% for the federal government.
Not surprisingly, BP gets the worst reviews here. Since nobody votes for BP (except at the pump), though, those numbers aren’t nearly as interesting as the 60% “very poor” rating for the Federal Government as a whole, or the 53% number for President Obama.
The Gallup numbers are essentially identical to the results from a CNN poll earlier last week:
Yesterday on This Week, George Will made the interesting argument that this oil spill could turn out to be not “Obama’s Katrina,” but his Iranian Hostage Crisis:
The danger isn’t that it’s his Katrina, it’s that it’s his Iranian hostage crisis. That happened to Carter in his first and, it turned out, only term. So it wasn’t like Katrina which was sort of beside the point by which time Bush was a spent force anyway… [The Iranian hostage crisis] reinforced perception. People said, “Carter’s well-meaning, like him, intelligent fellow, but maybe he just isn’t up to the job.” And the jury’s still out on that for Barack Obama.
In other words, a slow-drip crisis that lasts, if not years as in the case of the Iranian Hostage crisis, at least months and serves to chip away at the public’s image of the President’s ability to competently do his job, an assertion that already seems to be coming from persons such as James Carville, Chris Matthews, Peggy Noonan, and Maureen Dowd.
On the other side of the argument, though, David Brooks made a point on Friday that I think has merit:
You know, the government isn’t in the shrimp business. I don’t expect them to be responsible for it. And the government isn’t in the oil business. I don’t expect them to be responsible for it.
And that is sort of my view. I think people are saying, well, President Obama, President Obama, do something, do something. But they are always very vague about exactly what he should do about the oil that is coming out still.
And so I don’t expect him to be able to close that hole. That’s BP’s job. It’s not our — it’s not the government’s job. The government is doing a reasonably good job, I think, of doing the cleaning and the response. So, I give him a B. You know, this is not the standard he applied to President Bush during Katrina, but I think it is a realistic standard of what we should expect from government.
Unfortunately for President Obama, though, that’s not the world that we live in. The public has an expectation when events like this happen that the Federal Government in general, and the President specifically, will “do something,” even if they don’t know what that something is. The perception over the past 42 days has been of a disengaged President and, whether it’s fair or not, in politics perception is reality.
H/T: Chris Good