George W. Bush, vowing to be "a uniter, not a divider," was one of the most polarizing presidents in modern times. President Obama pledged to usher in the kind of change that would, finally, unify the nation, but opinion polls on his first year in office show that American attitudes toward him are well, pretty evenly split. In a new People interview, even Obama concedes that he's failed to "bring the country together." Will the "Change You Can Believe In" President out-polarize Bush?
'Change' is, inevitably, divisive: The "irony" here is that Obama is getting dinged for trying to do exactly what he promised, says Charles Cooper at CBS News. The demagoguery over health-care reform has just widened the "perennial left-right divide." And, on the economic front, the president isn't getting any credit "for preventing an even worse collapse."
"The irony behind Obama's poll numbers"
Obama has failed both his party and America: The awful unemployment situation and the seemingly endless ObamaCare debate have reminded voters "how much they object to [the president's] leftward lurch," says Jennifer Rubin in Commentary. "Politicians who cling to his agenda will do so at their own risk. And those who were promised political cover from the White House were, frankly, had. Obama is struggling to stay afloat; he hardly has the political mojo to help his fellow Democrats."
"An All-Time-High Unfavorable Rating"
Blame poor congressional leadership, not Obama: "Americans are more divided and discontented than ever" for two reasons, says Andrea Tantaros in the New York Daily News. First, "in the absence of George W. Bush, Obama is without an enemy to help define him." But the bigger problem is the "onerous millstones around [Obama's] neck: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi."
"On the anniversary of his inauguration, President Obama is on the wrong side of history"
Even with a 'dysfunctional' Congress, Obama's getting things done: Given how "factionalized" Congress has become, say the editors of The Economist, it's especially impressive that the president has "accomplished a tremendous amount" in his first year: By Congressional Quarterly's website count, he's got a higher win percentage in Congress than even LBJ.
He's doing better than Reagan: Obama's dropping poll numbers are normal for presidents leaving "the 'honeymoon phase,'" says Daniel Stone in Newsweek. Obama and his party are in trouble if the economy stays sour. In the meantime, polling in the mid-40s is "not worthy of derision .... After Ronald Reagan’s first year, [his] approval was in the high 30s."
"Obama approval vs. disapproval hits even split"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- After Ferguson: Stop deferring to the cops
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- 10 things you need to know today: November 27, 2014
- Ferguson riots were terrible — but this racist reaction was worse
- The hilarious hypocrisy of Republicans complaining about the imperial presidency
- Why the poor can't catch a break on Thanksgiving
- Obama just kneecapped Jeb Bush and Chris Christie's 2016 prospects
- How to deep fry a turkey
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- In Ferguson, Michael Brown lost his life — and America's police lost the benefit of the doubt
Subscribe to the Week