Going for It: Rapid Reinvention

Obama needs a makeover

President Barack Obama needs a public opinion reinvention, according to a story on A1 of today's Washington Post. According to a story about a Washington Post-ABC News poll, almost six in 10 Americans "lack faith in the president to make the right decisions for the country." The news was also not good for congressional lawmakers, in whom those polled also had lost faith.

I called political analyst Ron Walters, a professor at the University of Maryland, College Park, to find out what Obama needs to do to reinvent himself in public opinion. He said the picture is not necessarily as dire as it may appear from the poll.

"I think what we have to do is to be careful about the interpretation of polls because the challenge is deciding how much of this response is about the person and how much of it is about the conditions of the country," said Walters. "What people feel about Barack Obama is symbolic of their circumstance. And although you have different questions in a poll about conditions of the country, etc., still in a lot of this response, he becomes a symbol not only of his own administration and his actions, but about [the respondents'] own circumstance."

Walters said Obama will face challenges in turning around the opinions of those who responded negatively. "He's going to be very limited in fixing a lot of people's personal circumstance," he said. "It relates to unemployment. It relates to the oil spill...It relates to a lot of things outside of his control."

He'll regain favor when the economic picture improves and the oil spill is resolved, Walters said. Until then, getting the word out about "his program" is Obama's best strategy. "I'm not sure he can do a lot except go out on the stump and tell people the truth," Walters said. "He's been doing some of that. The other day he talked about what he inherited from the Republicans, but that will grow old because that doesn't help people get out of their circumstance. He will have to say what he's been doing to fix things...He's going to have to be more effective in putting his program out there."

Walters said Obama could also be helped in public opinion if the media were fair to him. "This has been the most remarkable concentration on a president," he said. "Obama is held up for everything and not given his props. If the media had given him his due, his numbers would be far better. In talk shows and newspaper analyses and even in the blogs, he has almost uniformly negative analysis...When he does something positive, it simply does not sell."

Obama is still a rock star, he just needs to get his band back on his side. It will be interesting to see what he does to reinvent himself.


Avis Thomas-Lester

 |  July 13, 2010; 10:14 AM ET Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Please report offensive comments below.

The USA seems to be running politics on a new level where
every issue seems to need "instantsolutions". It took FDR years to achieve democratic progress. Maybe it is true that
democratic change is hardly happening for the average
american families. The fact that there are still some 15 million
still without work means there is a lot of social unrest simmering just over the horizon. Obama is my democratic hero. Sure he doesn't have the stature of FDR but he does have the ideas that can help save the middle class, the core of democracy, and prevent the nation from becoming two classes:
the rich and the poor.

Posted by: ekabush | July 13, 2010 1:53 PM
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