On the morning after the 2008 Presidential election, a wildly-enthusiast Obama co-worker told me he was going to be one of the greatest presidents in American History. In order to temper this blind affection, I made a bold statement to him that I believed, within four years - or the end of Obama’s first term, the George W. Bush Presidency would have a higher approval rating than the Obama presidency. At that time, Barack Obama had an 80% approval rating in some polls, while the departing President Bush was at the extreme other end of the approval rating with only 20%.
As I made this bold statement, I thought of a quote by Richard Nixon in his autobiography. At the 1959 kitchen debate with Russian Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, Khrushchev was waiving his "We will Bury You!" bravado as Nixon recounts:
'Khrushchev arrogantly predicted to me,' writes Nixon, ' your grandchildren will live under Communism.' I responded, Your grandchildren will live in freedom.' At the time,'Nixon now concedes, 'I was sure he was wrong, but I was not sure I was right."
I felt the same way about my Bush/Obama approval rating prediction. I knew he was wrong, I wasn't sure I was right.
Well, this morning while making a 4AM escape from a Nashville hotel, I was greeted with today’s edition of USA Today. The front page listed a Gallup comparison on all the Presidents’ approval rating since Harry Truman after their first 6 months in office:
Bush Sr.: 66%
Bush Jr: 56%
As you notice, right now Obama is tracking behind GW Bush. Maybe I should have 'gotten odds on my statement.
Last month, Peggy Noonan conveyed the thought that all great Presidencies are to known by just one sentence:
"The Sentence [philosophy] comes from a story Clare Boothe Luce told about a conversation she had in 1962 in the White House with her old friend John F. Kennedy. She told him, she said, that "a great man is one sentence." His leadership can be so well summed up in a single sentence that you don't have to hear his name to know who's being talked about. "He preserved the union and freed the slaves," or, "He lifted us out of a great depression and helped to win a World War." You didn't have to be told "Lincoln" or "FDR."
Noonan says Obama’s great sentence should be: "He brought America back from economic collapse and kept us strong and secure in the age of terror."
Sadly instead, Obama’s statement will read, "He was responsible for double-digit inflation due to the Fed's printing of money to cover his unprecendented, drunken-shopaholic-type spending on his failed fiscal and social programs."
After watching Barack Obama for the past 6 months, I finally understand what makes him tick. I am going to lay out my thoughts on what I believe are the three elements that make up his persona over the next few days.