President Barack Obama’s approval rating stands at 69 percent, the highest for a newly elected president since John F. Kennedy, according to published reports.
A note of caution — Jimmy Carter’s approval rating after a week was 66 percent. It slid thereafter.
A further note — Obama’s been in office a week, for goodness sake.
Predictably, people from the extremes have spewed opinion about President Bush and President Obama, some on these pages. Yes, that was an expensive inauguration. But it was also, as NBC anchor Brian Williams pointed out, perhaps the largest crowd ever to assemble in our nation’s capital. Imagine that — millions of people going to D.C., to be a very distant part of an historic moment. Regardless of partisanship, that was an historic moment.
People in the middle are dismissive of ranting from the extremes. George W. Bush was never as poor a president as his detractors claim. After Sept. 11, 2001, this country was not once attacked on its soil, and Bush deserves credit for that defense. Those attacks on this country changed the direction of Bush’s presidency. He made decisions about Afghanistan and Iraq and Guantanamo that are his legacy, regardless of public opinion. Sept. 11 affected the Bush tenure until the day he walked down the steps of the Capitol, told a joke and said kind words to the Obamas, and flew with his parents by helicopter to an airport, and then to Texas. We wish him well.
Barack Obama won’t be as poor a president as his detractors shall inevitably claim, either, and he won’t likely be as good as his supporters believe. And that’s fine. We wish him well, too.
This week, Obama did two things that might suggest his time in office won’t be what Americans call “politics as usual,” but should now be identified as “governance as usual.”
Obama and Vice President Joe Biden were in a public appearance, and Biden quipped about the fumble by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts of the oath of office. (Actually, both Obama and Roberts, two Harvard guys, each dropped the ball. Where does that leave us?)
Anyway, when Biden quipped, Obama quietly chastened, reaching toward Biden, touching him the way we caution a child, and wearing the look that said “enough. Let’s not do that.”
On Friday, Obama signed an executive order regarding the so-called Mexico City rule. Now, again, U.S. federal funds may flow to international agencies that provide abortion services. His order was not a surprise; this is a pro-choice president. What catches the attention is the way Obama did it. He did not sign the order on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court abortion decision, as did both Presidents Clinton and Bush. And Obama did not make a big deal about it, choosing instead the day after the Roe anniversary, in a private signing without press coverage.
Obama has bemoaned the “politicization” of abortion. He chose not to rub his decision in the faces of others, nor hold it up to cheering proponents. That is an encouraging style of governance.
Obama’s critics are assailing the press for its kid-glove treatment. In an interview with Charlie Rose, ABC correspondent Jake Tapper described the “unrequited love” some of his colleagues feel for the new president. And, he said, at least a few members of the national press corps prefer to do their reporting “on their feet, rather than on their knees.”
Funny stuff, but pointed. Any honeymoon shall wane. The press corps will do what it’s supposed to do, Obama’s approval rating will likely dip, and forward the nation shall move.