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Susan Estrich
12 Feb 2016
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5 Feb 2016
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The Confused American


I always love it when politicians start talking about "the American people" believing this or that, as if we all do and they know it. Years ago, we nicknamed my friend Francie's mother "The Nation" because she was so fond of speaking for it. Truth is, Americans do agree on a lot of fundamentals. But because we do, nobody asks about those. "The American people" generally means that at least 40 percent of the people disagree with you.

If you really want to know what people in America (there, I didn't say it) think, you can't find a smarter guy to ask than Scott Rasmussen, or a better place to look than his Rasmussen Reports, which takes America's vital signs — and then some — every day. The Drudge Report calls today's results "The Love/Hate Divide," but what strikes me most in the numbers is how many people don't have a clue. The honest folks.

According to Rasmussen, 33 percent of the nation's voters now strongly approve of the way that Barack Obama is performing as president, and 33 percent now strongly disapprove. Liberals are very happy. Conservatives are very unhappy. "The American people," which is to say the folks in the middle who decide elections, are neither here nor there. Now that's profound.

But the numbers bear it out. When it comes to leadership, 51 percent give Obama good or excellent marks. But 53 percent are convinced that two key elements of the Obama plan — increases in government spending and tax cuts — hurt the economy. A whopping 58 percent (by polling standards, it's a lot) rate the economy as poor (not even fair) and think the country is on the wrong track.

If this were an election year, you'd say the incumbent is in trouble. You'd say that even though he has a lot of personal popularity, the wrong track numbers and the distrust in his economic policies expose huge vulnerabilities.

It is because Obama knows this that he has the sometimes annoying (to conservatives) habit of reminding people that the reason they're suffering is not his doing but his inheritance.

But this is not a case where the question is ever going to be who started it. Or rather, if it is, it means the Democrats are losing. The critical question is going to be: Did Obamanomics help or hurt? Did it save us from a deeper and longer recession, or just create a deficit for our kids to pay? Is unemployment going down or going up? If the numbers are bad, Democrats are not going to be able to save the day by saying it was George Bush who started it. Even if he did.

Will Obama's stimulus plan work? Will it turn out that he was right to bail out GM, right to save AIG? Will allowing the Bush tax cuts on the richest Americans to expire and increasing the taxes both on wealthy Americans and some small businesses raise revenue or depress the economy?

I always laugh when commentators (uniformly, I should add, untrained in economics) boldly announce that the president's plan will or won't work. How do they know? They don't — and can't. You certainly can make predictions based on theory, history or experience. But not only is much of what we are facing literally unprecedented, a major ingredient in any recovery will be consumer confidence, which is itself an amalgam of economic and non-economic influences.

As the Rasmussen Report clearly shows, "the American people" are, as usual, a lot smarter than the pundits. The liberals are happy, the conservatives are unhappy, and the people in the middle aren't sure how this movie is going to end. It's love and hate at the extremes, but in the middle, it's honest — and legitimate — confusion.

To find out more about Susan Estrich and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at



3 Comments | Post Comment
Thank God that people are becoming more educated about what is going on in our Country than ever before. I hope it is not too late. All of these bills that are being rammed through Congress and not being debated are changing the very fabric of our Country. Come on people and wake up before it is too late.
Comment: #1
Posted by: Anne
Wed Jun 24, 2009 8:02 AM
'Susan, I am confused! Would you please post the answer to my questionz? Who is Frank Marshall Davis and what is his connection to Pres. Obama? And what does Davis mean when he is rumored to call himself a "Gash Gorman"?
Comment: #2
Posted by: edward cruz
Wed Jun 24, 2009 6:23 PM
Let us pause for a moment. What are most American men thinking about this summer? My guess is that they are thinking about the number of hot women who have stuffed or overstuffed themselves into the smallest bikini they can legally wear and still be gynocologically correct. What are women thinking about? What hunk of a man they can entice to look at them this summer and do something about it. All these think-tank nerds are making mountains out of molehills. 80 percent of the public is enjoying the summer. To hell with politics ! The 20 per cent of the nerds who are not enjoying God's annual gift to us need to get a life. I have enjoyed the insane rants of the the rightwing radio jocks who cannot conceal they jealosy of the fact that their candidate lost. They daily rant that we are losing freedoms and fail to point out that we have the perfect way of correcting any horrible wrong.....It is called the ballot box. If the train has gone so far off the tracks that Americans are concerned about it, they will correct it with the great American leveler, FREE ELECTIONS . They come around often. Instead of whining about what the Democrats are doing, they should be coming up with VIABLE plans to correct what they percieve as problems. So far, they have offered nothing but unsupported nitpicking. That is not going to excite and motivate the public, they would rather go out to the beach and have fun with each other.
And frankly, even though I have an older eye, I would rather be out there with them enjoying the sun and not worrying about the good ole USA tanking. I have faith that it will be here for many years despite the CHICKEN LITTLE's of the Republican party claiming that the sky is falling.
Comment: #3
Posted by: robert lipka
Wed Jun 24, 2009 8:36 PM
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