This weekend Obama completes his first 200 days in office. In the mainstream media, this milestone is attracting almost as much attention as the first 100 days, certainly a measure of the amount of hope the media has invested in the first black president. Outside the beltway, however, the mood has changed.
In the spring, anything seemed possible to those who embrace a secular socialist world view. Leftists were still in a state of euphoria that George W. Bush was no longer in the White House. The largest political payback appropriations bill passed with the nation barely noticing. All seemed to be right with the world.
One hundred days later, the honeymoon is over.
Domestic issues are always the biggest issues in the minds and hearts of American voters, and as it becomes clearer that Obama isn't going to fix the economy anytime soon, and as more Americans realize that he's making things worse rather than better, the hiss escaping from the Obama balloon is becoming louder. Approval ratings have slipped, as they have for most recent presidents, but the news in the headlines give HopenChange little hope that his ratings will get better any time soon.
Independent, centrist Americans have yet to flock to the Republican party, even though Republicans have offered a host of alternative solutions to the leftist, socialist agenda of those in power. However there is a growing disenchantment among independents who voted massively for Obama in November and a feeling of betrayal from many left wingers who believed that Obama would immediately make their agenda his agenda. The liberal utopia they envisioned was never in the cards.
Theodore Roosevelt used to say that the power of the presidency lay in its function as a "bully pulpit." However, the lower the preacher's popularity, the more the congregation tunes him out, reducing his ability to press his agenda. This happened to Bush less than halfway through his presidency. His defeat of Kerry in 2004 was more a rejection of what Kerry represented than a show of support for the incumbent Bush.
What's surprising, in some ways, is that Obama's ratings have not fallen further. The $787 billion Generational Theft Act (which will cost between 3 and 4 trillion dollars by the time it's paid back) has not only not been the instant cure that it's overly optimistic supporters told us it would be, it has hardly made a difference at all. The stock market's slow recovery began before the ink was dry on the stimulus bill, but unemployment has continued to rise in spite of all those shovel-ready jobs, and will likely continue to rise until it tops 10% sometime later this year.
Soon the Great Recession will be declared to be over. In all likelihood, however, what follows will be a jobless "recovery" accompanied by massive inflation as the remainder of the stimulus money flows into the nation's economy. Trillion-dollar deficits stretch as far as the eye can see, and for many economists, America's debt will have a greater and longer lasting negative impact on the nation's economy than the recession.
While the administration complains of a "vast right wing conspiracy" creating "astro-turf" demonstrations, middle America is making its voice heard. The majority of Americans are more conservative than the media would like to admit, and those Americans are now regretting their decision last November. In large numbers, seniors, centrists and even many African American workers are suggesting that they made a mistake.
While many presidents have gone through a difficult patch 6 months in, seldom has a president seen the kind of change in sentiment that this one is seeing.
Unfortunately, with a filibuster proof majority in congress and a desire to change the face of America, what most Americans want may not matter. The only difference will be that Democrats are increasingly seeing that they have to accomplish everything they want in the next year and a half instead of the next four or even the next eight.