The Obama Tipping Point
A pondering as I wait to head to class tonight:
When do we think that the media and the general public will reach their “tipping point” with Obama? It’s been just over 50 days since Barack Obama began his administration, and while he was faced with an extremely difficult situation going in, what with the recession and all, nearly everything he has done to this point seems to have gone bad. Between the monstrous spending bills, the various gift gaffes, the numerous appointees and their assorted scandals and the economy showing zero signs of even thinking about recovering, Obama’s first 50 days have been like watching some young pitching phenom getting called up for his first major league start.
You know he’s got some talent, some potential, but he’s young, untested, brash and cocky, and the hype surrounding him, the expectations are through the roof. People watching are sort of holding their breath, wondering how it’s gonna go. Is the kid gonna come in and show some filthy stuff? Is he going to strike out fifteen and go eight solid innings? Is he going to seem like he’s been in the league ten years now and knows exactly how to mix his pitches, to work the count and hit his spots?
Or is the pressure going to get to him, is the lack of experience going to come back to bite him, his couple of months in the minors not nearly enough to prepare him for the big leagues? Is he gonna come in and walk the first two batters on eight pitches before giving up a three-run shot? Is he going to not make it past the second inning?
At this point, it looks like the latter. Every indication is that Barack Obama, as innately talented as a politician he may be, is not nearly ready for the big leagues. It may have all been hype. Maybe all he is is an extremely talented speaker. Whatever the case, his first 50 days in office have been a failure, even given the unbelievable amount of hype, and Obama did everything in his power to build the hype.
My question is: At what point does the media and the general public turn on him? When do the rats leave the ship? Obama’s approval rating is hovering relatively steady, with a few defections here and there, but not any sort of precipitous drop. His followers are loyal, if not overly bright. They’ve invested an unbelievable amount of time, energy, emotion and faith in this man, and to turn their collective backs on him and admit they were wrong about him will not be easy.
So I believe that going forward we will continue to see a slow trickle of support moving away, maybe 1 or 2 points a month for the next few months, nothing drastic, maybe bringing him down to the mid-50s. But then, at some point we’re going to see a seismic shift. As the economy continues to worsen, as foreign enemies continue to test us, to threaten us, as Americans feel less and less safe, and less and less secure about their futures, things will reach a critical mass. And then all at once, things will change.
The media will realize almost en masse that it collectively sounds insane to continue to bend over backwards to defend this administration, that to do so with any sort of clarity is so much of an effort that it’s no longer worth it. And with the media will go everyone else. When Rachel Maddow and Jon Stewart and the rest stop ignoring Obama’s gaffes and imperfections and start mocking them, when newspapers can’t help but pay attention to the endless stream of economic bad news, when the corruption and earmarks and scandals become too much to ignore, the public will turn too.
Already it’s noticeable, particularly living in New York. People who were fanatical about Obama just months ago have (finally) shut up. The chants of “O-Bam-A” in the streets have long since faded. Obama logo buttons have disappeared from lapels and hats. The ubiquitous Pepsi subway ads suddenly seem kinda silly. In a city chock full of Obama voters, suddenly everyone seems wary, defensive. But how can you offer a defense for what he’s done over his first 50 days, for the spending, the lies, the gaffes, the scandals?
There are only two choices at this point: Blame it on Bush & the GOP., either with the tired old “Well, they increased spending a lot too!” or “This is left over from Bush!” Guess what folks. It’s your turn. You’ve got the reins, this is on your head. Blaming it on or comparing things to Bush is going to get real old, real fast.
The other choice is to say that he’s just getting warmed up, give him some time, he’ll be fine. Like the pitcher in the tortured metaphor back at the beginning, maybe he’ll settle down after that three-run homer and cruise through a solid 6. But like the “Blame it on Bush” excuse, this one only has a shelf-life about a couple more months, at most. Being the President of the U.S. isn’t supposed to be something you learn on the job. You’re supposed to be ready going in. There’s no period of adjustment. That’s why people usually have some, ya know, executive experience beforehand…
Maybe all this pondering is for naught, maybe somehow the economy will suddenly pick up, maybe the administration will start doing some actual vetting of its nominations, maybe the NORK government and the Iranians and Russia and Muslims will lay off and give us a break. But I don’t see it happening. And I do see people getting awfully pissed off about having their hearts broken. Conservatives are mad because they saw this coming all along, we knew exactly what we were gonna get with Obama. But liberals trusted this man, they put their faith in him, they loved him, they worshipped him. And now they’re quickly seeing their dreams and hopes dashed, their prayers unanswered, their love unrequited. And when they realize that everyone else around them feels the same disappointment, the same abandonment, the same betrayal, when they realize that it’s ok to feel that way, when the backlash comes, when we reach the anti-Obama tipping point, there’s going to be hell to pay.
And, just to be on the record, I’m gonna say late summer. Revolutions always happen when it’s hottest.
Update: I wrote this, and then for some reason decided it would be a good idea to check to see if anyone else had wrote anything similar, after finishing, instead of before. Kinda dumb. After a quick Google search, I turned up a relatively similar (and much more scientifically supported) idea from Scott at Flopping Aces, from last week. So read his take too, here. He actually only gives the Dems about a month…