Barack Obama: the end of a love affair

Six years after offering hope and change, polls show the American public has fallen out of love with their president – so where did it all go wrong?

Barack Obama romped to the presidency of the United States in 2008 on a tidal wave of ‘hope and change’. Back then, the financial crisis was raging and US troops were still engaged in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, but a fresh-faced Mr Obama brimmed with confidence.

He predicted that future generations would look back on his election and see the moment “when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal…when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on earth.”

Six years later, Mr Obama is weary and greyed and finds his job approval ratings stuck in the low-40s. This October is the 17th consecutive month in which polls show that a majority of Americans disapprove of his leadership.

With November’s mid-term elections less than a month away, even fellow Democrats won't be seen dead with the man who once transformed their party's fortunes. Apart from some closed-door fundraisers, Mr Obama is all but invisible on the campaign trail.

So where did it all go wrong?

It was the economy, stupid…

Since Mr Obama took office facing the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, unemployment has fallen from 10pc to 6pc and American businesses have created 10 million new jobs – that’s more than Japan, Europe and every other advanced economy combined.

So why do only 39pc of Americans approve of his handling of the economy, according to YouGov? It’s because too many of those jobs are “McJobs” – that is, low-paid and part-time work that don’t leave people feeling better off.

In numerical terms, GDP has risen by 8pc since Mr Obama took office, but median household incomes are down 4pc and – unlike during the George W Bush years – there is no housing boom or easy credit make up the difference.











President Obama checks the Rose Garden for rain

Then there were healthcare reforms…that were bad for a president’s health

Elected on a wave of euphoria, Mr Obama bet the house on reforming America’s Byzantine healthcare system – quite literally as it turned out.

He succeeded in forcing the Obamacare reforms through Congress, but the payback came in the 2010 mid-term elections. The Tea Party movement was born and a fired-up Republican base took back the House of Representatives. Washington has been gridlocked pretty much ever since.

The big hurdle was the ‘individual mandate’ that forced all Americans to buy health insurance on pain of a fine. Mr Obama appeared to underestimate how little Americans, born to be free, like being mandated to do anything.











Barack Obama speaks during a rain-soaked campaign event in Virginia (AFP/GETTY)

Then came the roll-out fiasco…

Mr Obama had promised America they could go online and buy insurance “the same way you'd shop for a plane ticket on Kayak or a TV on Amazon”. In the event all they got was error messages and spinning egg timers as the Obamacare website crashed day after day.

Americans are naturally suspicious about the role of big government, and the disastrous Obamacare rollout only confirmed many in that prejudice. Suffice to say Amazon and Kayak would have filed for bankruptcy long ago if they handled their product launches like Mr Obama’s department of Health and Human Services rolled out Obamacare.


Print this post

Do you like this post?

Add your reaction to this article