The steady drop in President Obama’s approval ratings has been attributed to the recent acrimonious debate over health care reform. But I believe that debate is only a minor factor in Americans’ growing dissatisfaction with the president. The real source of Obama’s declining popularity is his character.
Every election of a non-incumbent is a matter of taking a chance. Political campaigns present candidates in the best possible light, and voters try to determine from all the hype and hoopla what sort of leader the candidate will be. However, it is impossible to be certain. We must infer from campaign themes and statements and behavior how the candidate will conduct himself in office.
Once the election is over, voters compare the elected politician with the expectations they formed while he was a candidate. They hope that he will at least be true to the promises he made during the campaign. In the best of worlds, he will exceed the expectations of his supporters and prove to be an inspirational and visionary leader.
The elected politician scores well when he demonstrates strength and depth of character. There are many aspects of the quality of character, but some elements are generally agreed upon. A president of character keeps his word, stands up for his country, and takes responsibility for his actions. President Obama has failed all of these tests of character.
It is certain that many on the left who voted for Obama are pleased with his performance. After all, he has moved this country toward socialism in more ways, at a much faster rate, and at far greater expense than any American president in history. For those who idealize the redistribution of wealth, the dismantling of capitalism, the hobbling of our industries with taxes and restrictions, the takeover of private companies by the federal government, and total state control of our health care system, Obama has delivered in spades.
However, liberals would have voted for Obama anyway. His margin of victory came from the many independent and nonaligned voters who thought it worth the risk to vote for an unknown quantity. These are the people who are turning away from Obama in droves, and the reason is his character.
Obama promised to lower taxes for 95% of Americans. He said this with a straight face, even though less than 60% of Americans pay taxes. Not only was the math against him, but he has already stated that taxes may have to rise for middle income taxpayers to supply revenue for his various programs. Obama promised to raise ethical standards and bring transparency to the White House. He has since appointed tax cheats to his cabinet, placed a racist on the Supreme Court, and bullied private industry to accede to his takeovers of banks, auto companies and other private concerns. He promised to publicly post on the internet all important legislation for a week prior to passage. Since coming to office, he has supported a Democrat Congress in its rush to enact massive spending bills before any Senator or representative could read them. Obama’s administration has been one broken promise after another.
Obama also fails the test of standing up for our country. His strongest suit in the area of diplomacy seems to be to travel to foreign countries and apologize for American misdeeds or disavow long standing policies. Nations that have risked much to be our allies–the United Kingdom, Israel, former Soviet republics–are thus taught that we cannot be depended on. But he does not stop there. He supports the legally deposed president Zelaya of Honduras; seeks closer ties to the terrorist-sponsoring governments of Iran, Venezuela, and Cuba; and shrugs at the nuclear and ballistic missile advances of North Korea. Obama makes no demands, defends no principles, and commits himself to none of the great causes of American foreign policy. He is a president ashamed of American exceptionalism, and, by extension, of America herself.
Obama does not take responsibility for his decisions. He inherited an $800 billion dollar debt from President Bush–largely due to the last-minute spending on the TARP financial institution bailout. This was a lamentable decision on the part of the previous administration. But Obama has doubled and trebled that debt, and wants to multiply it again, and continues to blame the deficit spending on the previous administration. Obama, in six months, has spent more money than all other presidents combined, but when this point is brought up to him, he blames the last guy who sat in his chair. When will Obama take responsibility for the trillions he has spent, and the trillions more he demands?
Finally, the health care debate again focuses attention on character. Obama, who promised to make the public part of the legislative process, has instead tried to rush hundreds of pages of health care reform through the Democrat Congress. When details began to leak out, and Americans protested, Obama’s administration asked his supporters to report anyone who opposed his agenda to the White House. He allowed Democrats in Congress to demonize his critics as un-American, subversive, and dangerous. And despite Congressional Budget Office estimates that his proposals will cost more, accomplish less, and cause more damage than Obama claims, the president continues to insist that the legislation be passed. At one time, Obama’s personal credibility may have carried the day on this issue. But now, after more than half a year of Obama, the majority of Americans no longer accept his claims at face value.
Voters have months of campaigning to decide if they like a candidate enough to vote for him. After the election, it takes another few months for them to decide if they’ve chosen wisely. Character takes time to reveal itself. Obama has had ample time to demonstrate his character. It appears, as time goes on, that more and more Americans find him wanting.
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