by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Over the last several months, the American public has had a hard and clear look at the executive talent inside the White House, and has begun to despair for real leadership and competence.
When leadership fails, people stop following. It appears in the sixth year of the Barack Obama presidency, that moment has arrived.
CNN’s most recent poll provided a clear indicator of this dynamic in the wake of two major controversies involving military issues. The results showed that Obama did not gain a majority of support for any of twelve issues surveyed from the respondents. In fact, in ten of the twelve issues, majorities disapproved of the President’s performance, and only on one – the environment, usually an overwhelming Democratic strength – did his approval exceed his disapproval, and only barely at 49/45. On the economy and health care, which the poll identified as the top two priorities of its respondents, Obama’s approval ratings sank to 38/61 and 36/63, respectively.
The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza assigns the change in polling to a crisis of leadership and competence in the White House. “The core of Obama’s appeal,” wrote Cillizza about the 2008 election “was the idea that he would restore competence back to the White House after President George W. Bush’s eight years…. Obama openly embraced the idea that he was the anti-Bush on nothing much more than his commitment to putting the best people in the right places within his administration.”
Now, the series of disastrous scandals and unmistakable incompetence have completely eroded confidence in his leadership, Cillizza argues, pointing to a Pew poll series in which his perceived executive competence went from 70/15 in February 2009 to 43/51 in December 2013.