AP Takes Blow-Torch to Obama Presidency



From FoxNews, By LIZ SIDOTI, The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — As a candidate, Barack Obama vowed to bring a different,  better kind of leadership to the dysfunctional capital. He’d make government  more efficient, accountable and transparent. He’d rise above the “small-ball”  nature of doing business. And he’d work with Republicans to break Washington  paralysis.

You can trust me, Obama said back in 2008. And — for a while, at least — a  good piece of the country did.

But with big promises often come big failures — and the potential for big  hits to the one thing that can make or break a presidency: credibility.

A series of mounting controversies is exposing both the risks of political  promise-making and the limits of national-level governing while undercutting the  core assurance Obama made from the outset: that he and his administration would  behave differently.

The latest: the government’s acknowledgement that, in a holdover from the  Bush administration and with a bipartisan Congress’ approval and a secret  court’s authorization, it was siphoning the phone records of millions of  American citizens in a massive data-collection effort officials say was meant to  protect the nation from terrorism. This came after the disclosure that the  government was snooping on journalists.

Also, the IRS’ improper targeting of conservative groups for extra scrutiny  as they sought tax-exempt status has spiraled into a wholesale examination of  the agency, including the finding that it spent $49 million in taxpayer money on  225 employee conferences over the past three years.

At the same time, Obama’s immigration reform agenda is hardly a sure thing on  Capitol Hill, and debate starting this week on the Senate floor is certain to  show deep divisions over it. Gun control legislation is all but dead. And he’s  barely speaking to Republicans who control the House, much less working with  them on a top priority: tax reform.

Even Democrats are warning that more angst may be ahead as the government  steps up its efforts to implement Obama’s extraordinarily expensive, deeply  unpopular health care law.

Collectively, the issues call into question not only whether the nation’s  government can be trusted but also whether the leadership itself can. All of  this has Obama on the verge of losing the already waning faith of the American  people. And without their confidence, it’s really difficult for presidents to  get anything done — particularly those in the second term of a presidency and  inching toward lame-duck status.

The ramifications stretch beyond the White House. If enough Americans lose  faith in Obama, he will lack strong coattails come next fall’s congressional  elections. Big losses in those races will make it harder for the Democratic  presidential nominee in 2016, especially if it’s Hillary Rodham Clinton, to run  as an extension of Obama’s presidency and convince the American public to give  Democrats another four years.

Obama seemed to recognize this last week. He emphasized to anxious Americans  that the other two branches of government were as responsible as the White House  for signing off on the vast data-gathering program.

“We’ve got congressional oversight and judicial oversight,” Obama said. “And  if people can’t trust not only the executive branch but also don’t trust  Congress and don’t trust federal judges to make sure that we’re abiding by the  Constitution, due process and rule of law, then we’re going to have some  problems here.”

The government is an enormous operation, and it’s unrealistic to think it  will operate smoothly all of the time. But, as the head of it, Obama faces the  reality of all of his successors: The buck stops with him.

If the controversies drag on, morale across America could end up taking a  huge hit, just when the mood seems to be improving along with an economic  uptick. Or, Americans could end up buying Obama’s arguments that safety  sometimes trumps privacy, that his administration is taking action on the IRS,  and that he’s doing the best he can to forge bipartisan compromise when  Republicans are obstructing progress.

Every president faces the predicament of overpromising. Often the gap can be  chalked up to the difference between campaigning and governing, between rhetoric  and reality. As with past presidents, people desperate to turn the page on the  previous administration voted for the Obama they wanted and now are grappling  with the Obama they got.

From the start of his career, Obama tried to sculpt an almost nonpartisan  persona as he spoke of bridging divides and rejecting politics as usual. He  attracted scores of supporters from across the ideological spectrum with his  promises to behave differently. And they largely believed what he said.

Back then, he held an advantage as one of the most trusted figures in  American politics.

In January 2008, Obama had an 8-point edge over Clinton as the more honest  and trustworthy candidate in the Democratic primary. That grew to a 23-point  advantage by April of that year, according to Washington Post-ABC News polls.  Later that year, the Post-ABC poll showed Obama up 8 points on Republican  nominee John McCain as the more honest candidate.

Obama held such strong marks during his first term, with the public giving  the new president the benefit of the doubt. Up for re-election, he went into the  2012 campaign home stretch topping Mitt Romney by 9 points on honesty in a  mid-October ABC/Post poll.

But now, that carefully honed image of trustworthiness may be changing in  Americans’ eyes.

A Quinnipiac University poll conducted late last month found 49 percent of  people consider Obama honest and trustworthy, a dip from the organization’s last  read on the matter in September 2011 when 58 percent said the same. He also has  taken a hit among independents, which used to be a source of strength for him,  since his second-term controversies have emerged. Now just 40 percent say he is  honest and trustworthy, down from 58 percent in September 2011.

Obama has waning opportunities to turn it around. He’s halfway through his  fifth year, and with midterm elections next fall, there’s no time to waste.

If he can’t convince the American people that they can trust him, he could  end up damaging the legacy he has worked so hard to control and shape — and be  remembered, even by those who once supported him, as the very opposite of the  different type of leader he promised to be.

Read more:  http://nation.foxnews.com/2013/06/10/ap-takes-blow-torch-obama-presidency#ixzz2W3LQK6T4

One response

  1. Reblogged this on Jack Carson Pickard and commented:
    This writer gives the current President more trust than I do.

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