President Barack Hussein Obama rode into the White House on what some have termed a “tidal wave” of popularity. His electoral numbers, while not a landslide, were certainly impressive: he garnered 53% of the popular vote, and 365 electoral college votes (270 were needed to win).
Since then, he has surfed that popularity wave, sometimes daringly hanging ten on the front of his rhetorical surfboard, as he has moved rapidly to effect the radical transformation of the political and social landscape of the nation, molding it; sometimes forcibly, to conform to his vision of the United States of America of the future.
For the most part, he has been decisive, and few would argue that his vision and proposals are and have been bold, perhaps excessively so in some instances. All newly elected Presidents have enjoyed what the press long ago dubbed a honeymoon period at the beginning of their tenure in the Oval Office. Obama, ever the shrewd political product of the Chicago political machine, has wasted no time ramrodding as much of his agenda as he can into fruition before the clock on his own honeymoon strikes midnight and his political carriage inevitably turns into a pumpkin.
Indeed, according to several recent polls the eleventh hour, if not the bewitching stroke of midnight, seems to be approaching as the public begins to stir and and look around. Voters have recently begun to focus their attention on such mundane aspects of Obama's visionary plans as the shocking rise in the projected deficits and the enormity of how much taxpayer money has already been committed to bail out financial institutions which are using taxpayer money to finance their executives' personal use of corporate jets and lavish meetings at luxury retreats, not to mention supposedly rescued auto companies entering bankruptcy anyway, and laying off tens of thousands of workers. Business, as the saying goes, as usual.
But the smoke is beginning to clear and the mirrors are starting to crack. The public is beginning to realize they must, at their own peril, pay attention to the man behind the curtain. According to a recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll:
Nearly seven in 10 survey respondents said they had concerns about federal interventions into the economy, including Mr. Obama's decision to take an ownership stake in General Motors Corp., limits on executive compensation and the prospect of more government involvement in health care. The negative feeling toward the GM rescue was reflected elsewhere in the survey as well. A solid majority — 58% — said that the president and Congress should focus on keeping the budget deficit down, even if takes longer for the economy to recover.
Obama's proposed plan to solve the so-called health care crisis also has the public scratching their heads and wondering from whence the money for the staggering trillion-plus cost will come. A New York Times/CBS News poll found only 44% of respondents approve of his healthcare initiative.
Pew Research notes that while Obama's personal popularity remains high, he is losing the confidence of the voters in his handling of the overall economy. According to Pew, his ratings on the economy have slipped from 60% in April to 52% in June.
As the revolution in Iran unfolds on the city streets of that troubled hot spot, Obama faces another crisis as well. White House statements urging caution in dealing with the Iranian situation, have been decisively repudiated by Congress, which voted 405-1 to condemn the Ahmadinejad regime's crackdown on protesters.
As Obama moves to remake America into his own private vision of a 21st century Utopia, he would do well to remember the voters. If he continues to displease them, his summer of Hope and Change may well turn into his Winter of Discontent.