Presidential Poll Numbers & Reelection

President Obama’s approval ratings have been below 50% for quite some time now. Depending on which poll you believe, his favorability is somewhere between 42-48%. That certainly looks bad for him at this stage of his presidency.

In an interview with Barbara Walters a few days ago, he said he’s not really in that bad of shape; as proof, he cited how poorly both Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan were doing two years into their presidencies—both lower than he is currently.

He is correct. There are other factors to take into consideration, however. Let’s start with Bill Clinton.

After experimenting with normalizing homosexuality in the military and concocting a healthcare bill that foreshadowed Obama’s, Clinton’s popularity was definitely in the tank. Neither was he helped by the accusations of scandal that began early in his administration. As a result of these unpopular policies and proven congressional misdeeds, Democrats lost control of Congress just two years into Clinton’s first term. There are shades of Obama’s predicament in what Clinton had to negotiate, although Democrats currently still control the Senate, albeit precariously.

What did Clinton do? He refashioned himself into a centrist. No more social experimentation with the nation’s military and no more radical agenda items. He even famously declared in one of his State of the Union addresses that the era of big government was over. Now, I don’t think he really believed that, but it was politically expedient to say so.

Couple that image makeover with a thoroughly beatable Republican candidate in 1996—Bob Dole—and Clinton was able to win a second term. The scandals continued, of course, and he suffered an impeachment trial, but the public was fat and happy with the economy, the foundations of which he inherited from Ronald Reagan.

What of Reagan’s unpopularity two years after his inauguration? There are distinct differences.

  • First, since Reagan didn’t believe in government pump-priming to create an artificial prosperity, he didn’t push for a huge stimulus bill. He chose the long view of things rather than a quick fix.
  • He successfully shepherded tax cuts through a Congress where the Democrats continued to control the House, showing his ability to work with the other side and win key Democrats over to his policies.
  • His budget, with tax cuts as part of it, didn’t even begin until October of his first year. Consequently, it would take a while for them to go into effect and spread through the economy.
  • The public may not have liked waiting [the source of popular discontent] but they at least saw a viable plan being put into operation. They could wait for results. With Obama, results were promised immediately, only to fall flat.
  • The last two years of Reagan’s first term saw a distinct rise in the economy that showed the wisdom of his approach. He won reelection on the heels of an America that was on its way back to prosperity after the nightmare of the Nixon-Ford-Carter years.

Why does all this matter? I don’t think Obama has it in him to emulate Clinton. He’s an ideologue who genuinely believes in his “solutions,” false as they are. He will not bend. The consensus from economists is that we can expect high unemployment through the next two years. If the economy hasn’t shown any serious life by then, he will be in far deeper trouble than Clinton had to face in 1996.

Neither is he a Reagan. Again, his ideology blinds him to real solutions. Even as things get worse, he paints a rosy picture. Anyone remember “Recovery Summer”? Maybe you just missed it; you weren’t paying attention. Right.

Reagan not only cut taxes but he also directed his administration to reduce federal regulations. Obama’s vision is the polar opposite. Reagan saw a recovery that lasted throughout his final six years in office. That’s not going to happen in our day without a significant shift in policy. Republicans can’t make that happen by having the majority in the House only. Even if they controlled the Senate, it would not be by a large enough margin to override presidential vetoes of bills they pass.

In other words, unless Obama changes drastically, don’t expect any uptick in America’s economy. Unless he deals correctly with the mounting debt [i.e., spending cuts], things will only get worse. If we go into hyperinflation, which many economists predict, expect a voting public that’s even more upset with the state of affairs than in 2010.

If all this occurs as predicted, expect Obama to be a one-term president.

Is This Romney's Time?

In the 1960s, there was a Romney who was a successful businessman, who was a popular governor of Michigan, and who ran for president—unsuccessfully. His name was George. He had a son who also became a successful businessman and governor of a state—Massachusetts—and who ran for president as well—unsuccessfully.

Thus far, Mitt Romney has followed almost precisely in his father’s footsteps. Prior to his political career, he was best known for taking over a scandal-plagued Olympics committee in 1999, and turning it into a world-class Winter Olympics program in 2002. His ability to do that helped ease him into the world of politics.

Using the prestige earned by his Olympics management, he won the Massachusetts governorship in 2002. He declined to run for a second term, setting his sights instead on the Republican presidential nomination in 2008.

He attracted a lot of support from conservatives, particularly economic conservatives, not only for his time as president of the Winter Olympics Committee, but also for his background as CEO of a private equity investment firm. In fact, he won the endorsement in the primaries of the conservative magazine National Review, which lauded him on its cover.

As I watched the primaries unfold, I wondered why he was getting so much support from such staunch conservatives. His views on abortion kept changing over time, and he had set up a healthcare plan in Massachusetts that many see as a state version of Obama’s plan. Romney says he opposes Obamacare, and I don’t doubt his sincerity about that, but he has a lot of explaining to do as his Massachusetts plan has followed the same trajectory of increased costs that Obama’s legislation is beginning to manifest. Some people are wondering, “What’s the difference?”

This political cartoon from a few years ago poses the same question with respect to Hillary Clinton’s proposal back in the 1990s:

While it seemed he might have the inside track for the 2008 nomination, he stumbled in almost all the primaries, much to the chagrin of his supporters who felt he was the most qualified of all the candidates. When he pulled out of the race, economic conservatives were crushed. But why they were so crushed is a mystery to me when I consider what he did to healthcare in Massachusetts.

So, on policy issues, let’s just say I’m not convinced he’s all that solid. One of the complaints against him is that he sometimes seems rather opportunistic, willing to change his views to get ahead.

I have to bring up one more point. It’s a sore point, and will undoubtedly open me up to charges of bigotry [the accusation of choice these days]. He is a Mormon, and I hold steadfastly to the belief that Mormonism is not Christian. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is not simply another Christian denomination; it is an entity unto itself. And, in my view, it is a rather strange entity in its doctrine. Individual Mormons, it is true, often lead lives of strict morality [which is good for the nation], yet the foundation for what they believe is far afield from the Biblical understanding of the nature of Jesus Christ and how salvation occurs.

Some will say, well, what does that have to do with governing? I would rather not place someone into a high office in the land whose religious beliefs are based on what I perceive to be a great deception. This does not mean I hate Mormons. On political matters, they are usually quite conservative, and we can agree on what needs to be done with respect to government. Yet, on spiritual matters, I have to disagree, and religious beliefs do form the foundation for everything else we believe as individuals and as a nation. Personally, I would want to limit Mormon influence in our society.

As I said, I realize this opens me to charges of intolerance, but I submit that is not the case, at least in the manner most would think. I do not think God wants us to tolerate error, yet He always wants us to reach out to those who are in error and be willing to share His truth. We are to love, not disdain or reject, those who have followed a wrong spiritual path.

If it came down to a stark choice—Romney or Obama—there would be no hesitation on my part. Obama’s worldview is so blatantly anti-Christian, and the policies he promotes are so unbiblical, that I could never wish another four years of his administration upon us. In such a circumstance, Romney would have my vote. I just hope I won’t be reduced to those options.

There is no question Romney is running again; his team is already together and moving ahead. In that respect, he is ahead of nearly every other potential candidate. Will he have what it takes to win this time? Personally, I am more comfortable with either Sarah Palin, the subject of yesterday’s post, or Mike Huckabee, the subject of tomorrow’s.

Looking to 2012

The 2010 congressional and gubernatorial elections have barely passed, yet the speculation for 2012 has begun in earnest. Although some of that speculation can be found on the Democrat side, it would take a political earthmover to remove Obama as the candidate.

Interestingly, two Democrat pollsters, Doug Schoen and Pat Cadell, have urged the president to remove his name from contention in the upcoming election. I don’t think he’s going to take that suggestion seriously. Others continue to harbor hope that Hillary Clinton will reenter the fray. That’s highly unlikely at this point. Again, only an unforeseen event of significant magnitude could create that option.

The more serious pondering is on the Republican side. There are numerous names floating around as the potential nominee. High on everyone’s list are the three who seem to dominate the early polls among Republican voters: Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney, and Mike Huckabee. A second tier of candidates includes Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Then there are Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, South Dakota Senator John Thune, and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, who, I believe, who comprise another—and lower—tier.

Among the second tier, Daniels has a solid reputation for fiscal sanity, as Indiana has done well on his watch. He did make a statement, though, that social issues need to take a back seat at this time. Personally, I’m bothered by anyone who wishes to separate the two. Can he reintegrate the economic and the social? They really do belong together, and he needs to understand that issues such as abortion and marriage are the glue that binds social conservatives to the Republican party.

Pawlenty served well as governor of Minnesota. Perhaps his greatest strength is that he was able to win and govern as a conservative in a state that’s well known for its liberalism. Not many politicians can claim that type of success. I have heard as well that he is an evangelical Christian, which is a key factor in my calculations. The one knock against him is that he’s not very exciting. On the one hand, being exciting is no barometer by which to gauge a person’s effectiveness as a leader. Yet it is true that the candidate will have to energize the voters. Can Pawlenty do that? The verdict is still out.

Gingrich was the leader of the Republican takeover of Congress back in 1994. He’s always been full of ideas and can be an electrifying speaker. He’s articulate and always focuses on the positive, pointing Republicans toward a future of economic growth. Lately, he’s also been more outspoken about his newly revived faith, having recently become a committed Catholic. As many commentators note, though, there is a lot of baggage with Gingrich. On the political side, he is sometimes considered a “bomb-thrower,” as his comments have led to problems in the past. Then there’s the fact that he’s abandoned two wives. His third wife, to whom he has been married for the past decade, had an affair with him while he was Speaker and still married to wife number two. Even if he has repented of that, can he really be trusted to stay the course morally with that kind of track record? It’s a genuine concern, as personal morals can undermine the best political agenda.

Barbour, Thune, and Santorum are long shots, but you never know in this atmosphere. Yet most of the attention belongs—rightly, I believe—on the top three: Palin, Romney, and Huckabee. I want to take time to evaluate them carefully in separate posts. That will be my goal for the rest of this week.

Obama's Homosexual Appointees

An Associated Press article provides the impetus for today’s commentary. Once again, I enter a minefield with what I am going to say, but I do so willingly, with eyes open.

Obama Speaking to the Human Rights Campaign, a Homosexual Advocacy Organization

The title of the piece is “Obama Appoints Record Number of Gay Officials.” Even though the president is less than halfway through his first term, the article notes, he has appointed more openly homosexual government officials than the previous record-setting president, Bill Clinton.

The article then highlights how the culture has changed since the Clinton years:

In a sign of how times have changed, few of the appointees–about two dozen required Senate confirmation–have stirred much controversy. It’s a far cry from the 1993 furor surrounding Clinton’s nomination of then-San Francisco Supervisor Roberta Achtenberg as assistant secretary for Housing and Urban Development.

Achtenberg was the first openly gay official to serve at such a senior level, and she won confirmation despite contentious hearings and Sen. Jesse Helms, R-N.C., who denounced her as a “militant extremist.”

Homosexual activists are still awaiting the first homosexual to be appointed to a cabinet post, yet …

Obama did appoint the highest-ranking gay official ever when he named John Berry as director of the Office of Personnel Management, which oversees the nation’s 1.9 million federal workers. Other prominent names include Nancy Sutley, chairwoman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, and Fred Hochberg, chairman of the Export-Import Bank. Obama also named Amanda Simpson, the first openly transgender appointee, as a senior technical adviser in the Commerce Department.

Obama Appointee Jennings

Further, a White House spokesman says Obama “is proud that his appointments reflect the diversity of the American public.” The only controversy over a homosexual appointment has been Kevin Jennings, who was a founder of the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Network. He now oversees the Education Department’s Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools.

More than 50 House Republicans asked Obama to remove Jennings from the post after reports surfaced about advice he gave more than 20 years earlier after learning a gay student had sex with an older man.Jennings conceded that he should have consulted medical or legal authorities instead of telling the 15-year-old boy that he hoped he had used a condom. The Obama administration defended Jennings and declined to remove him.

What this all amounts to is a sea change in the public’s perception of the acceptance of homosexuality. It’s not hard to understand how this has occurred. All one has to do is watch television. Homosexual characters, portrayed sympathetically, are everywhere. There is no real discussion anymore on the nature of homosexuality; it is politically incorrect even to offer an opinion that one’s sexuality is a matter of choice, not genetics—despite the fact that no genetic evidence for homosexuality exists.

It used to be an axiom that homosexuality was a sin. American society, built on a Biblical worldview, acknowledged that Scriptural doctrine, but the relentless attack on Biblical principles has undermined that view, to the extent that many who call themselves Christians no longer believe it. As for political conservatives, they shy away from any controversy about it so that they won’t lose votes or appear to be “backward.”

A recent poll showed that 44% of Americans continue to believe homosexuality is sinful. I’m sure that’s a much lower percentage than in the past, and that the number will decrease even more. However, I can’t base my beliefs on American public opinion; neither can I base them on any trend in the churches away from the Biblical view. I must stand on what the Scriptures teach. Only by recognizing homosexuality for what it is—a sin—can a person ever be freed from its grasp. Recognition of sin precedes repentance for that sin; after repentance comes faith in the crucified Christ for forgiveness of sin. Only then will a person have a clean conscience before God and man—and that is the goal.

Therefore, I will remain politically incorrect, which is to say, acceptable in the eyes of God. As the apostles told the authorities when they were told not to speak anymore in the name of Jesus, “We must obey God rather than men.”

Education's Inconvenient Truths

There’s a new movie out—a documentary—entitled Waiting for Superman. It’s an indictment of what some people call public education. The more accurate name for it is government-controlled education. I haven’t seen this documentary yet, but the director, Davis Guggenheim, is a liberal who directed Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth, which will never qualify as one of my favorite movies. This time, though, he has some genuine inconvenient truths regarding the educational establishment. Apparently, there are some liberals who are scared about the quality of education the current generation is receiving. Will this film wake up the general public?

Now we come to the real problem—the teachers’ unions. They have a stranglehold on the educational profession. Part of the problem is the circle-the-wagons mentality that wants to hold on to tenure and make quality secondary. The other part of the problem is the ideology to which the unions are wedded:

As I noted in a previous post about the NEA, the resolutions it passes every year at its annual convention are the essence of radicalism: the focus is on every progressive icon—racism, feminism, environmentalism, homophobia, etc.

When you combine a radical ideology with a mania for job security, you don’t want anything to interfere with your near-monopoly, no matter how poorly it’s performing:

We keep tinkering around with the externals rather than rooting out the false ideologies. We continue to trust government and the teachers’ unions rather than allowing the free market to determine educational success. I remember when Bill Clinton made a big deal about wanting to put an extra 100,000 teachers in the classrooms. What does that really solve if you don’t deal with the more fundamental problems?

And woe to any students who might really want to learn:

Unless we attack this problem at the root, we’ll never find a real solution.

The Economy and November

Yesterday, I let the cartoons do most of the talking, specifically on the really ludicrous statements coming from this White House regarding the “recovery.” While I don’t want to overwhelm you with cartoon after cartoon, there are just so many flooding the Internet right now on that specific topic. Take this one, for instance:

Note the calm demeanor of the president, while Uncle Sam is rattled—literally. Then there’s this one:

The image here is a president who is clearly out of touch and more focused on his free time. I’m hoping that the patient [the American economy] isn’t really quite as far gone as depicted.

This out-of-touchness [may I coin a term?] has given Democrats the jitters. They’re getting scared as the midterm elections approach. One of the best columns I’ve read on the current state of the Democrats in light of the upcoming elections comes from Jonah Goldberg. You can find his cogent analysis here. Goldberg recounts a conversation one Democrat congressman had with the president, reminding him of how the Republicans took over Congress back in 1994 due to unpopular policies being pushed by Bill Clinton:

Convinced that his popularity was eternal, Obama responded by saying, yes, but there’s a “big difference” between 1994 and 2010, and that big difference is, “you’ve got me.”

The funny thing is, Obama might have been right. Because things might be much worse for Democrats in 2010 than they were in 1994 — and the big difference might well be Barack Obama.

You need to read the entire article. It’s well worth it.

Meanwhile, there is a sense of doom hanging over the Democrats:

Those who feel that doomsday is approaching may be correct. Personally, I hope they are. The nation will be the beneficiary.

Today’s Surprise: I Recommend My Own Books

In the nearly two years that I’ve written this daily blog, I’ve never, to the best of my recollection (how’s that for a lawyerly term that gets me off the hook if I’m wrong?), advertised for books I’ve authored. Today, though, I would beg your indulgence, since I’ve just had a new edition of one of my books come off the presses.

I first wrote If the Foundations Are Destroyed in 1994. This is now the fourth edition of it, complete with a new cover. Why might you want it? The subtitle, Biblical Principles and Civil Government, tells you what it’s all about. I go through what I consider to be Biblical principles and how they apply to government. These form the basis of all my analyses of current government policies. So if you are a regular reader of this blog, this book will provide a window into why I believe as I do.

I have excerpted some of these concepts on the blog already as an overview. If you are interested in a preview, just click on the “Biblical Principles” category in the right sidebar. To learn more about the book and to order it, go to:

http://ponderingprinciples.com/books/itfad/.

While I’m at it, let me talk briefly about the other two books I’ve written.

I did my doctoral dissertation on Noah Webster. While writing it, I had in mind that I wanted to make it into a publishable book. That’s not always easy with a doctoral dissertation, but I made every effort to ensure the writing style was accessible to a general audience as well as scholars. I hope I succeeded.

Webster was the schoolmaster to early America. His speller and dictionary could be found in nearly all American homes. The subtitle, A Spiritual Biography, lets you know that my goal in this book was to chart the course of Webster’s thinking and worldview. At age 50, he experienced a conversion to orthodox Christian faith. How did that affect his scholarly work? The book compares the pre-conversion Webster with the post-conversion man, while offering along the way an accounting of his contributions to American life and culture. To find out more and order this book go to:

http://ponderingprinciples.com/books/webster/.

In 2001, I completed a study of the Clinton impeachment. My approach was different than any of the other books on the impeachment written at that time. I wrote it from the perspective of the thirteen congressmen—they were called House Managers—who went to the Senate to argue for Clinton’s removal from office. I personally interviewed all thirteen of the Managers in their Capitol Hill offices; this book provides their story on why they thought it was essential to go forward with these impeachment proceedings in spite of public opposition. It’s a study in character and the significance of the rule of law in society.

At the time of its publication, it was a main selection for the Conservative Book Club. Well-known author and editor of World magazine, Marvin Olasky, wrote the foreword for me. This is the only one of my books that is currently out of print (which I hope can be changed someday), but it is still available for those who are interested. For one of the limited number of new copies that still exist, you can order from this page:

http://ponderingprinciples.com/books/misimp/.

If you don’t mind getting a used copy, check out Amazon.

I don’t offer these with any expectation of becoming fabulously wealthy. My primary concern is to disseminate valuable information. I’ve promoted books by a number of authors over the past two years. I just wanted to make sure you are aware of mine as well. I hope some of you decide to add one or more of these to your library.