Chickens Coming Home To Roost

March 14th, 2009

President Obama’s pastor, mentor, and spiritual leader of 20 years screamed from the pulpit, “America’s chickens have come home to roost!”  The crowd in his large church cheered, laughed, and clapped.  Reverend Jeremiah Wright was talking about the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States, of course.  But we were all relieved to learn that candidate Obama had no idea the good Reverend harbored such opinions.

Now, it seems, the chickens are coming home to roost for President Obama himself.  Despite the talk about bipartisanship, an end to unproductive political infighting, regaining America’s place of respect in the world, a new kind of foreign policy, tax cuts for 95 percent of everybody, a sure-fire solution to the economic problems caused by those darned Republicans, we are the ones we’ve been waiting for, and so on…. 

In a March 13 article in the Wall Street Journal’s Opinion Journal, “Obama’s Poll Numbers Are Falling to Earth,” Douglas E. Schoen and Scott Rasmussen wrote:

It is simply wrong for commentators to continue to focus on President Barack Obama’s high levels of popularity, and to conclude that these are indicative of high levels of public confidence in the work of his administration. Indeed, a detailed look at recent survey data shows that the opposite is most likely true. The American people are coming to express increasingly significant doubts about his initiatives, and most likely support a different agenda and different policies from those that the Obama administration has advanced.

Polling data show that Mr. Obama’s approval rating is dropping and is below where George W. Bush was in an analogous period in 2001. Rasmussen Reports data shows that Mr. Obama’s net presidential approval rating — which is calculated by subtracting the number who strongly disapprove from the number who strongly approve — is just six, his lowest rating to date.

Overall, Rasmussen Reports shows a 56%-43% approval, with a third strongly disapproving of the president’s performance. This is a substantial degree of polarization so early in the administration. Mr. Obama has lost virtually all of his Republican support and a good part of his Independent support, and the trend is decidedly negative.

A detailed examination of presidential popularity after 50 days on the job similarly demonstrates a substantial drop in presidential approval relative to other elected presidents in the 20th and 21st centuries. The reason for this decline most likely has to do with doubts about the administration’s policies and their impact on peoples’ lives.

Now the chickens are roosting on the White House roof.  That was inevitable.  Obama and his supporters, particularly the most ardent and least knowledgeable among them, expected a performance that was superhuman.  I remember the ecstatic woman on TV shouting something to the effect that she was so happy Obama was elected because now he was going to pay her mortgage and credit card bills.  Stupid, perhaps, but she was a voter and she had expectations, like millions of other voters who had more or less unrealistic expectations.

I still think Obama is a smart guy who can figure out what his new job is all about.  Once he gets there, he’ll probably do pretty well.  But there is very little time for presidents to go through on-the-job training, and in his case there’s even less because of the economic crisis.  He needs to get his act together and do it now–staff the Treasury Department, build something resembling a bipartisan coalition in Congress, focus on the economy first and all his other agenda items later, and communicate better with the American people.

And speaking of chickens coming home, what happened to Obama’s promise to get rid of earmarks?  He repeated the promise in his inaugural address and again the other day when he signed the bill that funds the government, even though it contained over 9,000 earmarks.  Said he wasn’t going to keep doing that.  Right. 

And by the way, here’s where some of our money is going via those earmarks, according to a March 11 AP report

More than one out of every five dollars of the $126 million Massachusetts is receiving in earmarks from a $410 billion federal spending package is going to help preserve the legacy of the Kennedys.

The bill includes $5.8 million for the planning and design of a building to house a new Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the Senate. The funding may also help support an endowment for the institute.

The bill also includes $22 million to expand facilities at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum and $5 million more for a new gateway to the Boston Harbor Islands on the Rose Kennedy Greenway, a park system in downtown Boston named after Kennedy’s mother and built on land opened up by the Big Dig highway project. …

About $20 million has already been raised for the institute, including contributions from drug companies, insurance companies and hospitals. Tentative plans called for a replica of the Senate chamber itself, as well as programs to train new senators.

I wonder if part of the training program will teach senators how to do what Ted Kennedy has done and still emerge as a revered law-giver? 

And the chickens are coming home to roost for the businessmen who ran their businesses into the ground, unions that sometimes helped them do it, greedy Wall Street parasites, schlubs who gave and took subprime mortgages, their enablers in Congress and the regulatory agencies, and now the gullible folks who invested with Bermie Madoff.  Guess what they all want?  Yep–they want us taxpayers to bail them out.

But as even the gray lady of liberal journalism points out, people are responsible for their actions.   

From a March 13 report in The New York Times:

What happened to the victims of Bernard Madoff is terrible. But every day in this country, people lose money due to financial fraud or negligence. Innocent investors who bought stock in Enron lost millions when that company turned out to be a fraud; nobody made them whole. Half a dozen Ponzi schemes have been discovered since Mr. Madoff was arrested in December. People lose it all because they start a company that turns out to be misguided, or because they do something that is risky, hoping to hit the jackpot. Taxpayers don’t bail them out, and they shouldn’t start now. Did the S.E.C. foul up? You bet. But that doesn’t mean the investors themselves are off the hook. Investors blaming the S.E.C. for their decision to give every last penny to Bernie Madoff is like a child blaming his mother for letting him start a fight while she wasn’t looking.

So where does all this leave us, the people who pay the bills?  The President has to get his chickens lined up and solve the biggest problem first; Congress has to clean up its roost and start behaving like responsible adults; leaders in the public and private sectors have to stop worrying about enriching themselves and do what they can for the public good (just this once, guys!); and we taxpayers have to nail all their little chicken feet to the roost until they “get ‘er done.”


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9 Responses to “Chickens Coming Home To Roost”



  1. doris |

    Right on!!! Git her done, Tom. You just aren’t a redneck, no matter how hard you try. Luckily….


  2. Kevin |

    Hmmm… A couple days after winning the election Rasmussen had Obama at 54/41 (approve/disapprove). The cited poll all these months later has him at 56/43 – a higher approval rating than he had before he’d done anything as President. Rasmussen actually has an even more recent poll released yesterday and it has Obama’s approval going up: 57/41

    Backdrop: Obama’s approval number is higher than it was when he was first elected and that’s after enduring weeks of conservatives crying “Socialist” over and over.

    I’d say that seeing chickens roosting is subjectively in the eye of the beholder.


  3. Tom |

    This Rasmussen being the same person who co-authored the article, along with a former pollster for Bill Clinton. Who knew the vast right-wing conspiracy had this much reach!

    Truth is, from every direction, liberal and conservative, people are questioning what Obama and the Democrats think they’re doing. The chickens coming home to roost in this case are not the terrorists so admired by the Reverend, they’re a different flock. They’re the ones stirred up by unrealistic expectations and ephemeral promises. There was never much chance that Obama would pay the bills of the ecstatic lady on TV, but it was at least reasonable to expect a better performance in all areas than we’ve seen so far.

    I want President Obama to succeed. That means before he does anything else, he must deal with the economic crisis. Once that’s done, we can all engage in an adult conversation about all the other things on his agenda.


  4. Kevin |

    This Rasmussen being the same person who co-authored the article, along with a former pollster for Bill Clinton.

    Okay. Since he’s not here perhaps you’d like to take a crack at explaining to me how a 54/41 approval/disapproval rating on 11-08-08 + a 57/41 approval rating on 03-11-09 = “Polling data show that Mr. Obama’s approval rating is dropping” as asserted in the article.

    Truth is, from every direction, liberal and conservative, people are questioning what Obama and the Democrats think they’re doing.

    That’s certainly true. Likewise, from every direction, liberal and conservative, people are questioning what Limbaugh and the Congressional Republicans think they’re doing.

    I don’t know about you but I don’t believe there’s a single person on the planet who can reliably prophecy about the future, even the near-term future. That goes as much for Obama as it does for his harshest critics.


  5. Tom |

    I can’t account for Rasmussen’s opinion, but it’s pretty clear in the article. Maybe he’s looking beyond the surface at the internals of the polls. That sometimes gives a different picture than the overall numbers reported in the media.

    Frankly, I can’t make out what any of these politicians are doing. It’s pretty clear, though, that their primary concerns are for themselves rather than the overall good of the country.

    My criticism of Obama is not partisan. If his name were McCain and things were like they are now, I’d be just as critical. I hope he’s very successful in dealing with the economy, and soon, but it’s beginning to look pretty bad. I don’t think he has a sense of urgency about it, and I’m not sure he has a clear idea of what to do.


  6. Kevin |

    I’m not going by what is reported in the media. Rasmussen’s own numbers show that Obama’s approval rating is higher today than it was when he was first elected. And while Rasmussen cited the very highest disapproval rating for Obama that his oranization has recorded since the election, in the very next released Rasmussen poll just a couple days later that number had dropped back down to precisely what it was the day after Obama was elected.


  7. Carla Axtman |

    I can’t account for Rasmussen’s opinion, but it’s pretty clear in the article. Maybe he’s looking beyond the surface at the internals of the polls. That sometimes gives a different picture than the overall numbers reported in the media.

    The numbers from Rasmussen are an outlier compared to a bunch of other polling on Obama..both favorability and job approval. Obama’s job approval ratings have been essentially the same since he took office:

    http://pollingreport.com/obama_job.htm

    His favorability ratings have taken a similar tack:

    http://pollingreport.com/obama_fav.htm

    In terms of “earmarks”….frankly I find the complaints in general silly. We need the government to send money to the states for projects that help create jobs. If that means building additions to stuff and naming it “Kennedy”..who the heck cares..? It’s good construction jobs that should pay a decent wage. The report notes that there are a hefty amount of private dollars involved too. That’s the way it ought to be.

    Having been to the John F. Kennedy Library, I can tell you its a treasure. It’s a place which stores an amazing array of antiquities, not to mention a great place for study. Expanding it is a completely appropriate use of these dollars.

    The Republicans aren’t interested in a bipartisan coalition in Congress. Obama can’t do it by himself and the GOP has made it clear that the have no intention of allowing it to happen.


  8. Tom |

    The main criticism of earmarks is that they’re very often slipped into bills without regard to relevance and designed to payoff a supporter, satisfy a special interest, or help a member in the next election. However, it’s not illegal, and if it doesn’t bother you, that’s fine. The issue we’re talking about is Obama’s righteous promise to eliminate them and his failure to live up to that promise. It never was a realistic promise, like many others that were made. Shouldn’t politicians ever be called to account for making empty promises?

    I don’t have anything against presidential libraries. I’ve been to a couple, and I share your appreciation of them. However, I’m not sure this is a proper use of funds. (Look here and see what you think.) Plus, the money for a Ted Kennedy “Institute for the Senate” sounds fishy–almost like a mini-library for a senator. As a taxpayer who has to pay for this stuff, I don’t want my money spent on something that memorializes Ted Kennedy, or any other senator for that matter. This is one of the problems with earmarks–they get quietly stuck in so that most folks don’t notice.

    And spending my money in memory of Jack and Ted’s mom? Come on.


  9. doris |

    Now, just when did you, or I, get to decide where our tax dollars really go??? Earmarks will always be, I am sure Obama intended to eliminate them, but, he didn’t know how that worked. This is payment for your support on things that matter a great deal to Obama. That is the system and I found his lack of knowledge of how things work in Washington to be refreshing. Since when did anyone ever keep their campaign promises????? Few and far between, right? I believe he had to pass that bill, earmarks and all, because it was already set into motion before he arrived, no?


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