Yesterday, The Daily Banter's Tommy Christopher covered a new Quinnipiac Poll showing that a plurality of Americans believe that President Obama is the worst president since World War II. At the risk of sounding like an Obamabot (I'm not, but that won't prevent trolls from going there), the poll is complete hooey and I don't mind enumerating exactly why.
1) Americans are trend-a-holics. Right off the bat, these polls, at least when it comes to the current or previous president, are always greatly influenced by popular buzz. Voters overhear cable news people who are desperate for content and therefore concoct dramatic, scandalous narratives every day, and too often mistake these snapshots in outrage as being indicative of broader trends or a lack of success. Rarely is the current president thoughtfully compared and contrasted, beat by beat, with other presidents. Political junkies aside, we too often simply repeat what we hear other people say in passing. For example, the movie Edge of Tomorrow was fantastic compared with most of the other Summer blockbusters, but not many people went to see it because the buzz on the street was that it was a bomb. No one wants to support a bomb, regardless of whether it's good.
2) How many 19-year-olds know what the hell Gerald Ford did or didn't do? The most hilarious part of the poll was that Quinnipiac asked 18-29-year-olds about presidents most of whom held office prior to that demographic being born. Yet they rated Johnson, Ford, Nixon and Carter as less "bad" than Obama. Now, sure, a good many voters in this demo might've cracked a book about Ford or Nixon at one point or another, but really, how valid are these opinions when it comes to a serious evaluation of every president since 1945, 40 years before the upper end of this age-bracket existed? I mean, 29-year-olds weren't around during half of Reagan's presidency. Seriously, I'd like to see the results of a Quinnipiac poll showing the percentage of 19-year-olds who can name one thing Gerald Ford did. One. Bonus points if they can name the years during which he was president.
3) Obama is the worst president, and the fourth best. Lost in all of the news media's scare-headlines on Wednesday was the fact that, yes, the poll results showed Obama as the worst president, but also the fourth best. In other words, these badly confused poll respondents thought Obama was the worst president and simultaneously better than eight of the other presidents. This is clearly not a serious evaluation of comparative presidential quality. By the way, jumping back to item #2, Millennials thought Bush 41 wasn't as good as Nixon, which is a highly suspect result. And while we're here, the demographic group that was alive during most or all of these administrations, ages 65+, believe Obama is the fifth best president. Likewise, they also think he's the worst. My head hurts.
4) Consider the source. As Tommy pointed out yesterday, most of the respondents were white conservative men. No wonder the results are so wacky.
5) No good deed goes unpunished. Departing from the nonsensical "best/worst" results, Quinnipiac also showed that Americans disapprove of Obama on the issues of the economy, healthcare and fighting terrorism. Am I losing my mind or are these three issue areas where the president has either been competent or in fact excelled?
--In terms of the economy, millions of jobs have been created; the stock market has reach record highs after dropping to the darkest recession-era depths in 2009; previous quarter aside, the economy is growing; American car manufacturing was rescued and is now quite robust; and roughly $1 trillion has been shaved off the budget deficit. Oh, and incidentally, Obama's recovery efforts in 2009 and 2010 rescued the economy from a second Great Depression. Maybe Quinnipiac poll respondents don't think that's a big deal, but they should.
[UPDATE: It was announced today that unemployment dropped to 6.1 percent.]
--On healthcare, millions of Americans now have quality, affordable health insurance they wouldn't otherwise have were it not for Obama, and the cost curve is bending as predicted -- all thanks to the most comprehensive, deficit-reducing healthcare reform legislation in our lifetimes.
--And on terrorism, Osama Bin Laden is dead, along with his various lieutenants. And unless I'm mistaken, hasn't one of the most screechy gripes from the left been that Obama has too wantonly annihilated a "kill list" of terrorists?
While we're on the topic, here are several more accomplishments:
--Passed Wall Street Reform
--Ended the War in Iraq
--Repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”
--Devised the strategy that saved Libyans from Qaddafi
--Reversed Bush Torture Policies
--Kicked Banks Out of Federal Student Loan Program
--Boosted Fuel Efficiency Standards
--Passed Mini Stimuli (July 22, 2010; December 17, 2010; December 23, 2011)
--Created Conditions to Begin Closing Dirtiest Power Plants
--Achieved New START Treaty
Now compare this record to many of the previous presidents. Not every accomplishment is golden or fulfills 100 percent of what the nation requires, but they're considerable accomplishments nevertheless, especially given our political divisiveness. Objective reality shows that this president is far from the worst. History will ultimately decide whether he's among the best, but obviously the Americans who responded to the Quinnipiac poll shouldn't be among the historians making that call. Has Obama been a flawless president? No. Very few presidents are. But is he the worst in modern history? Not by a long shot.