President Barack Obama’s approval rating has dipped below 50 percent, causing many of his critics to accuse him of trying to do too much at once.
A New York Times article by John Harwood cites Republican pollster Jan van Lohuizen as saying, “It’s a very real problem. Not just that attention is scattered, but the message is scattered as well.”
Now it may be true that a large number of American people are attributing their dissatisfaction with Obama to his multitasking — but are these people right? Should he just concentrate on war in Afghanistan? Should he just focus on the economy? How about just health care?
We should also ask ourselves, would we be satisfied if Obama just tackled the top three things and left the rest on the backburner? Of course not.
During any given minute at Northwest Asian Weekly, an organization e-mails us a press release urging community leaders to take a stand for a cause — immigration reform is a big one — by pressuring the President to put an issue on his agenda in addition to all the others.
It’s clear. We, as citizens, expect a lot and perhaps the griping over multitasking is not so much that Obama isn’t working hard enough or paying enough attention because he has too many things on his plate.
Rather it is that he is not accomplishing the ones that we like for him to soon enough or in the way we would like him to.
Also, remember that approval ratings do not truly reflect how well the president is doing — just how Americans perceive how well he is doing.
Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush, is notable for having the highest approval and disapproval ratings in the Gallup Poll’s history during his presidency.
Does this mean that Bush was both the best and worst president? No.
Perhaps Obama’s juggling act is more transparent due to new media — blogs and feeds churn out information and news every second instead of daily newspapers that come out every 24 hours. But just because we now see the multitasking better, it doesn’t mean it is unique to Obama.
In the same New York Times article, Paul Begala, former White House political aide, stated that Bill Clinton “juggled the Middle East peace process, violence in the Balkans, a confrontation with the Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, the drowning deaths of would-be immigrants from Cuba, and the surprise resignation of the House speaker-designate,” all while he was under scrutiny due to the Lewinsky affair.
In our opinion, given that we live in complicated times, we think Obama has been careful and thorough in deciding his priorities. Time will tell what positive results will come out of his presidency — after all, we’re only 11 months in. ♦