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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Approval ratings show it’s time for Obama to step up

CNN published its findings on America’s current political stance on Friday. One of the questions: Do you think Barack Obama is a better president than George W. Bush?  

America answered: 47 percent of those polled think that Obama is better while 45 percent say that he is not. Two percentage points separate those who would rather have Bush as a president over Obama, down from a 23 percent advantage a year ago. The thunderous rumbling noise you hear is that of great expectations crashing down.

On a week-to-week basis, approval ratings can jump up and down like a pogo stick. For example, look at Bush’s approval ratings before and after Sept. 11, 2001. Before that fateful day, Bush had a 51 percent approval rating; afterwards, it skyrocketed up to 90 percent.

It’s important not to underestimate the power of a good speech. Bush’s post-9/11 address was a revelation, a spine tingling call to arms that united a nation and drove forward the Middle Eastern meddling machine we still employ today. His approval from the week prior to the week following Sept. 11 was the biggest jump in the history of approval records. Ironically, the war so vehemently supported by the public initially drove Bush to new depths of disapproval later in his second term.

Democrats’ initial approval of Obama when he took office was the highest ever initial figure — 88 percent — which embodies the excitement he instilled in the party. Close to two years later, Obama has seen his overall approval drop to 47 percent.

This downward-trending approval rating is hardly abnormal. Since World War II, only one president has had a net gain of approval rating from arrival to departure in office, Bill Clinton, and only Dwight D. Eisenhower saw approval ratings over 50 percent for almost his entire presidency.

When comparing support from Bush to Obama, both hovered around 60 percent approval within their first 200 days in office, when Bush’s spiked post 9/11 and Obama’s has dwindled consistently to today’s approval. But to be blunt, a dead muskrat could have capitalized on the ailing American psyche post Sept. 11. Buffered by this titanic leap in approval, Bush coasted through much of his first term with greater than 50 percent approval; however, a steady decline continued into his second term as the war in Iraq grew increasingly unpopular to the point of Vietnam-esque status.     

It is worth noting that while Obama is far beneath Bush’s ratings at this point in his term, he is above Clinton’s ratings at the same point in his first term. The standing legacy of Obama at this point is tied to his inheritance of a drowning economy and an attempt at health care reform.

We just haven’t seen enough of the Obama administration to determine definitively if he has what it takes to make the changes necessary for our nation to move forward. A presidency is not made in the first year and a half alone.

Although the road is steep, the expectations were high, and unfairly or not, we stick with our judgments. Is Obama really better than Bush? An educated man would have to think so, but even the most devout liberals are getting restless.

There is a lot of game left to be played, Mr. President; the second half is about to start. It’s time to step up, or fall back into the realm of mediocrity. It’s time to change the game like you promised, and it’s time you got a little help from the Republicans, too. It’s time we all kept vigilant our scrutiny of your administration while also understanding patience for the long road back.

Time is still to be had, Mr. President, and it’s about time you show us what you’re made of.

— Brett Haupt is a journalism junior. He can be reached at


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