January 25, 2009

The Honeymoon

After the American Century

New presidents have a honeymoon with the public that lasts a few months in most cases. Obama certainly is having a good honeymoon, with an approval rating of 73%, with only 14% disapproving. Another way to look at this is to recall that Bush's rating fell to around 25%, with some fluctuations. So there is one quarter of the public that supported Bush no matter what he did, and presumably this same group does not like Obama much. He has probably achieved the highest rating possible in the wake of the Republican debacle.

Furthermore, the public is not equally enamoured of Congress, which therefore is in a weak position to oppose his agenda. The chance to achieve real change exists, but the opportunity will not outlast the spring - at least if history is any guide. Were these normal times, Obama could move immediately on creating a new medical system. Instead, he has to use this precious time to fix the Bush economy, and one can only hope that some innovative programs are part of the stimulus package.

Look on the right column of this Blog, and each day you can see precisely how much of Obama's first hundred days remains. That is roughly the honeymoon's length, though the term 100 days comes from Roosevelt's New Deal. FDR accomplished an incredible amount in 1933, in good part because the Depression had already lasted for more than three years, and Congress felt a great urgency to repond. This suggests that, paradoxically, Obama may benefit, in the short term,. if the economy remains weak for a few more months, forcing Congress to act.