Eighty-$#@*-Four Percent


Mark of New Jersey

Mark is a Founding Editor of The League of Ordinary Gentlemen, the predecessor of Ordinary Times.

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27 Responses

  1. Avatar ThatPirateGuy says:


    So given that congress won’t fund your move to close gitmo, what specifically can he do about that situation?

    The other massively bigger question I have is would electing a member of today’s “I’d rather be waterborading” t-shirt wearing republicans help any of those issues?

    I’m pissed but what am I going to do enable the torture enthusiasts?Report

    • @ThatPirateGuy, I’m not advocating for the Republicans, just pointing out that the notion that Obama has done more to advance the liberal agenda than to impede it is simply misguided and wrong.Report

      • Avatar trizzlor in reply to Mark Thompson says:

        @Mark Thompson, most of the counter-points you and Davis make address the wars, an issue that Obama has actually been remarkably consistent on. Following the SOFA to draw-down from Iraq, escalating the “just war” in Afghanistan, prohibiting torture, and shutting down Guantanamo are all issues that he campaigned heavily on and – aside from the stale-mate on the latter – has delivered. Moreover, progressives certainly weren’t making issues out of this during the election; in fact, they were about as convinced that Obama was a radical progressive as the far right. If they want to be angry now they should direct it inwards for electing a guy who does what he says instead of what they secretly wanted him to.

        This kind of stuff pisses me off almost as much as Republicans retroactively trying to photoshop GW Bush out of the party. It’s perfectly reasonable for idealistic voters to change their mind, but it means nothing if they completely ignore their own formerly complicit behavior.Report

  2. Avatar gregiank says:

    In short, for Americans of all types: President=Quarterback.

    The rest of the answer is that there is plenty of upset among liberals about the Big O’s failings on civil rights, Afganistan, Gitmo, etc. Asking about approval is a really slippary concept. I approve of the job he has done in general while thinking he has screwed some things up big time. that really isn’t that odd a concept. I shudder to think of any person who agrees with 100% of anything a pres does. I would like to see a pole at NN regarding each specific issue.

    Oh and if you were looking for people who would tend to be tribal NN, like tea parties or the various other conservative groups, would be the kind of place to look.Report

    • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to gregiank says:

      @gregiank, Just to be clear: I don’t think this is a problem unique to the Left.

      I also don’t view this as an issue of straightforward tribalism: like I said, I assume Dems in Congress would find significantly lower approval ratings amongst NN than Obama received. In reality, though, the record of Congressional Dems in advancing the liberal agenda is quite good – so far as I can tell, they have not gone backwards on anything from a liberal perspective and have moved forward on a number of things, even if not as far forward as many liberals would like.

      But Obama winds up getting the overwhelming majority of credit for these fundamentally legislative successes. In fact, he gets so much credit for these legislative successes that it outweighs the actions or inactions he has taken on all the things that are exclusively or primarily within his power.

      I’m struggling to think of what significant things he has done to advance the liberal agenda in areas where he is the primary authority. Admittedly, I’m not a liberal and I could be missing a bunch of things, so I’m willing to be persuaded. But man, that expansion of warrantless searches creates a pretty high bar when the expansion of executive power in the Bush Administration was such a (deservedly) big issue.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Mark Thompson says:

        @Mark Thompson, A few things. First, I think recency could be playing in to your assessment of the NSL issue. There is also the matter that, even though Obama wants to do it, he wants to make the law allow him to do it, whereas Bush preferred to break the law and assert he had the authority to do so when he very easily could have sought and received basically whatever changes in law he wanted. Similar context applies in many of Obama’s otherwise thoroughly detestable executive national security power decisions. I’m also not sure the NSL story would have been at all widely reported when this straw poll occurred.

        Second, I think you probably are overlooking any number of domestic legislative accomplishments. As has been pointed out elsewhere, many of these bills (much to the dismay of may here) are in fact huge conglomerations of measures that in most times would be thought of. More on credit for legislation in a moment.

        Third, you completely fail to account for the government-wide change in attitude toward regulation that occurs in almost all agencies whenever the WH changes party which, (though clearly attenuated in cases like Salazar, is still probably the single most significant change that occurs when the WH changes hands – EPA carbon regulation being a major example of the results.

        Judicial appointments – enough said. The first Latina. The first, er, well okay this one wasn’t the first anything, but she’ll vote the way progressives want more often than not.

        [You might argue that any Democrat would deliver many these things, and they would. But why is that reason for progressives not to applaud that Obama in fact did. This is what gets him to 51%. No one (I hope) is saying he’s Lincoln or FDR.]

        Last, on legislation. First, the president is not Congress. But the office is equal to Congress – he can say what will not be law. Institutionally, there is no reason to deny any credit to a president for the laws he signs. Second, while the president doesn’t dictate to Congress what becomes law, he certainly influences. I just think it’s obvious that without the White House acting as the go-between and field marshall, health care would have obviously fallen apart at some point or other, most likely well before anyone knew who Scott Brown was, but certainly after. That was clearly Obama’s achievement, even if the limitations of the contents were largely dictated to him by Congress. The president has a lawmaking role, and clearly leads or at least negotiates with the Congress to get outcomes he’s satisfied with; I’m not sure why we’d deny him any credit for what gets produced.

        I certainly don’t deny that there is plenty of reason for progressives to disapprove of Obama on net, but I think there is plenty of reason for it to be a close question, and when we throw in that this is, after all, their guy, and they’re clearly, especially just eighteen months in, going to be inclined to try to find reasons to like him, I’m just not seeing what’s surprising about this number.Report

        • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Michael Drew says:

          @Michael Drew, Oh yeah – on overlooked legislation – FinReg, though I would say this is the one law that was a dead-lock cinch to pass (hence it came up last), and was probably the most disappointing given what probably should have been done. So it’s subject to your hesitancy to give the president credit for legislation. But again – I don’t share that for the reasons given (it’s a powerful pen he holds – that’s why we give it so much attention). And I think it was pretty clear the WH was quite involved here, too.Report

        • @Michael Drew, All good and fair points, Michael. Alas, my response to your comment downblog was eaten by the internets and it was too long to try to recreate.

          But…I should really emphasize that this is not something I view as inherent to liberals or liberalism, but rather something that seems to be a cultural trait, the last 30 years in particular. Congress is almost always held in low regard, and even the base of whichever party holds that branch tends to hold it in much lower regard than they would ever hold a President of that party. No President has faced a primary challenge worth mentioning since Ted Kennedy challenged Carter, even as a Congressman or Senator can face serious primary challenges for even one act of blasphemy against the base.Report

          • Avatar 62across in reply to Mark Thompson says:

            @Mark Thompson, Congress is always held in low regard, yet incumbent reelection rates have been above 90% for the House and 75% for the Senate over the last 20 years. For all the noise, we are pretty toothless as an electorate.Report

            • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to 62across says:

              @62across, Don’t get me started….

              Although this is part of my point, I suppose – we really don’t pay a heckuva lot of attention to Congress and put everything on the Presidency. We (by which I mean the bases, or the people most interested in politics in general) only pay real attention to the rare individual members of Congress who commit some kind of special apostasy. They get little credit when they do well.Report

  3. Avatar Maxwell James says:

    Obama’s actions with regard to rendition, indefinite detention, etc. constitute a genuine betrayal for his progressive base. But doubling down on Afghanistan is something he said he’d do as a candidate. I think most progressives accept it as part of the costs of being in power.Report

  4. Avatar Plinko says:

    I’d suspect a lot of Progressives will mark themselves down as approving of the President given however horri-bad he’s been on many things they’re supposed to think are important because it’s hard to believe that a President McCain would be any better on any of those issues while simultaneously being far, far worse on every other issue to them.Report

    • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to Plinko says:

      @Plinko, True enough, but the high approval rating suggests a lack of willingness to really hold his feet to the fire here beyond the occasional angry blog post.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Mark Thompson says:

        @Mark Thompson, Progressive blog posts angry with Obama are hardly an occasional thing. And there’s nothing odd about going about trying to hold a politician’s accountable with public criticism within the context of overall support. Does this number demonstrate bias in favor of this figure rather than pure objectivity? Sure. Who do you think goes to Netroots Nation, Mark?Report

      • Avatar 62across in reply to Mark Thompson says:

        @Mark Thompson, is a lower approval rating from NN any more likely to drive Obama to behave differently than an angry blog post? They seem equally impotent to me.

        And adding to Plinko’s point, I contend most progressives should have a hard time believing that a President Clinton, President Edwards or President Biden would be any better either. And, of course, President Kucinich was never going to happen.Report

  5. Avatar Michael Drew says:

    84% of people approving != 100% of people approving with 84% enthusiasm, or even 84% approving with 84% enthusiasm. It means perhaps 84% approving with at least %51 enthusiasm, but likely with a lot of them very much taking into account what the alternative was.

    Bottom line, it’s a dumb question to ask, as people have very different views of different actions by a given figure and asking them to balance them out is essentially meaningless. In actual elections it is always a choice between options. With an official responsible for so many different things, it becomes rather difficult to draw a net-net, so many probably just revert to overall impressions and projected hopes. This guy still represents (perhaps depressingly) the best hope progressives have had for their movement in many years, so less than two years in you’re probably still seeing more a reflection of aspirations for the presidency than an assessment of it. That said, he’s is a popular and winning figure and very few of these folks would deny being fierce partisans, so if things don’t improve and Obama is defeated for re-election, I wouldn’t be surprised to find substantially the same numbers among this crowd at NN13.

    I would add that even the ACLU gives Obama high marks for his striking of torture from the officially sanctioned activities of the U.S. government, and that I think we would agree constituted the low point of the still-outstanding policy questions handed to him. Also, withdrawal from Iraq is actually occurring on schedule thus far, whatever one thinks of that schedule.Report

    • Avatar 62across in reply to Michael Drew says:

      @Michael Drew,

      “so if things don’t improve and Obama is defeated for re-election”

      The only measure that will matter at all is the vote when Obama comes up for re-election. Repeatedly, Obama has said he is playing a long game. He is not yet to half-time of his term. He will be judged when he comes up for re-election.

      We should all hold his feet to the fire. Angry blog posts, and strongly worded letters to the WH, should continue with a vengeance on these civil rights issues. But putting much meaning into the incessant polling seems a waste of effort.Report

  6. Avatar E.C. Gach says:

    “Even though Congress has about $*%#-all to do with any of the horrific acts or failures to act I mentioned above.”

    Obviously the President is the final authority on military related matters, but what level of responsibility do you think Congress bears for continuing to fund his campaigns?Report

  7. Avatar Jaybird says:

    I’ll repeat what I said back here:


    The problem is that there is no real measurement of skill absent of outcome in the political arena.

    If he passes a good-enough bill? He will be a Jedi Master capable of tackling the worst Sith Lords the Republicans can throw at him… Beck, Limbaugh, Hannity. Thrown down a well like so many emperors. How foolish we were to not understand exactly how *GOOD* he was!

    If a not-even-good-enough bill passes or if one doesn’t pass at all, he’ll be a kid who never fought a real fight against the right wing before and had no idea what a tough prolonged political battle looked like and we ought to have known. Lord, we ought to have nominated Hillary.

    But we have no way to measure which one of those is going on and won’t until the bill passes (or doesn’t).

    Our (screwed up, to be sure) political process has turned him into Schroedinger’s President. He is both bad *AND* good until the waveform collapses.

    We still don’t know.Report

    • Avatar North in reply to Jaybird says:

      @Jaybird, Which is an odd accomplishment for the man. Obama seems to specialize in temporizing and prancing along on the knife edge. I don’t know if it’s skill, political cowardice, careful planning or policy incoherence.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to North says:

        @North, I don’t know if he’s a Zen Master playing 11-dimensional Chess or if he’s an exceptionally lucky inept candidate who benefitted from running after the largest Republican implosion since the Great Crash and whose only real competition was someone with as many negatives as Hillary Frickin’ Clinton (of all people).Report

  8. Avatar Zach says:

    I agree as far as weighing the costs of the decision to continue/extend war (and related activities) against legislative achievements in the past 18 months goes. Health care reform was in no way modest, though. It could’ve gone further; public insurance would’ve better addressed a major driver of cost increases. But subsidizing care for people who aren’t poor or old or children is a big shift. Federally mandating a standard of care w/ the exchange is major.

    Also, GTMO still being open is horrible, but this is one area where Obama’s hands really are tied. He’s constantly running as close as possible to having Congress pull the plug on the whole thing. There are far more cowards in the Senate than there are Dick Durbins.Report

  9. Avatar Katherine says:

    Obama is highly disappointing and is doing a bad job on foreign policy. The Republicans, sadly, are worse and would do an even more terrible job on foreign policy, and are largely only attacking him on the area’s of foreign policy where he’s acting sensible (eg, arms control).

    I’m glad I don’t live in the States, because I wouldn’t like to have to decide how (or whether) to vote.Report

  10. Avatar Katherine says:

    Oh, and he probably is responsible for the lack of a public option (I’m going off Greenwald’s posts here) and he managed to move the Supreme Court RIGHT in terms of civil liberties and presidential authority. Doesn’t change the fact that his Republican opponents are off their freaking rockers, putting liberals between a rock and a hard place.Report