Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Matthew Cooper blogging for The Atlantic, has a theory about the decline in Barack Obama's approval ratings that's intriguing, counterintuitive -- and utterly wrong:

I have a slightly different spin on this, which is that it's the spending and the modest success it seems to have brought in stopping the total collapse of the banking and financial system. If the economy felt like it was in the same free fall that it was a few months ago, he'd be doing better because there'd be less questioning of government spending and more calls to pour everything on the fire. But with the respite in the fall comes the freedom to question spending. Or, to put it another way: The firemen saved your house but now you're pissed off about all the water damage in the den.

Matt, can I tell you something? To the average American, the economy is still in the same free fall it was in a few months ago. Economically speaking, Americans have one concern above all: hanging on to their damn jobs. Unemployment was 7.6% in January -- and 9.4% in May. The average American sees that -- lives through it -- and doesn't think, "Oh well, there are green shoots elsewhere, and besides, we all know employment is a lagging indicator." To the average American, that is the story. (Well, that and fat cats getting bailed out.)

Americans know this will take a while to work out. They blame Bush. But for heaven's sake, they're not somewhat dissatisfied with Obama because they think things are getting better.


Cooper has had a couple of dumb posts today. Here's another one, about the president's remarks on smoking at his news conference today:

Obama's Weird "AA" Crack

... The weirdest moment came when he got asked about his own smoking and the new law giving the FDA authority to regulate tobacco. First, he referred to it as his law, which seemed a little grandiose since the likes of Henry Waxman have been pushing it since he was just a Chicago law professor. But more odd was his rather lengthy, odd defense of his current smoking. He likened it to being in "AA," which is an unsettling image ("Everyone, this is Barack." "Hi, Barack.") and he pronounced himself 95 percent cured, which sounds odd. And his lawyerly answer about not smoking in front of family raised more questions than answers. You wished he'd just said that he struggled with it and not gotten into specifics or alchoholism metaphors.

Has Cooper ever known anyone who's almost over the smoking habit? I certainly have -- and Obama's description of his own near-success and his self-imposed rules (" I don't do it in front of my kids. I don't do it in front of my family") sound very familiar to me. The near-successful quitter I know best had a long list of rules for curbing smoking: only while drinking (back when you could smoke in New York bars), never during work hours (even outside the building), never in a house or apartment. This is someone who, though fully smoke-free now, was "95 percent cured" for a long time, which is just what Obama says he is these days. Sounds like a perfectly apt description to me.

And referencing AA? Hey, don't a lot of us think we're biochemically addicted to porn/shopping/blogging/gambling/bad relationships/whatever? At least nicotine is literally an addictive chemical.

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