In April 2001, George W. Bush was enjoying Texas style poll numbers.
On September 11, 2001, his morning schedule featured a school visit.
George W. Bush stood at 62 percent in a CNN/USA Today Gallup poll in April 2001, Bill Clinton was at 55 percent in a CNN/USA Today Gallup poll in April 1993, George H.W. Bush stood at 58 percent in a Gallup poll from April 1989, and Ronald Reagan was at 67 percent in a Gallup poll taken in April 1981.
For most president’s, first term poll numbers in April and the “first 100 days” is pretty much meaningless.
But not, apparently, for Barack Obama. He’s being called by some, “the best starting president ever.”
So President Obama has again scheduled a news conference next week. But as we all know, he has nothing new to say. In Hollywood, this is called “chewing up scenery.”
The president to best manage and co-opt the media ever naturally wants to bask in their glow: especially in the glow of the adoring but dying newspapers. Who even knows if they’ll be around when he really needs them, or if they’ll come to his aid in a real crisis.
So I forgive the gushing over his accomplishments while it lasts. The Obama White House and much of the media enjoys a Hollywood marriage which could well eveolve into an ugly Hollywood divorce.
Obama deserves to enjoy the moment and the adulation: just as he did in London and Austria and Mexico and Trinidad and in Iowa on Earth Day.
All that is meaningless prologue, if history is any guide.
In April it is all about possibilities and rebirth and Easter — even for those that haven’t seen the inside of a real church in a long time. And for every president in the past it is about when will the poll numbers go down, by how much, and what unknows will come to put their teeth into our collective legs.
There are several looming international problems that Obama yet may be compelled to face: North Korea, Pakistan, Iran, Israel and the greater Middle East to name a few.
Any one of these will be a lot tougher than shooting Somalis in a row boat.
And don’t forget about Russia and China. Both are re-arming. Russia is headed by a former KGB Agent who, we are certain, is laughing about the American focus on the issue of waterboarding as torture. That’s child’s play to Vladimir Putin. Leaders in China also certainly share this belief. One can venture a guess that Obama shook hands just last weekend with tyrants that have ordered worse torture than waterboarding…..
But the real fear we all must be prepared for is what George Bush and the nation faced on September 11, 2001: the “unknown unknown.” The complete surprise.
We can argue now in the comfort of April 2009 about what George W. Bush did, might have done and should not have done. But Obama’s day is likely ahead, and he, and all of us should not lose sight of that.
Pakistan’s Military Chief: Army “will not allow the militants to dictate terms”
Obama Remains Without Coherent Foreign Policy; Just “Love Me” Mania
Obama and Israel’s Netanyahu Will Cooperate or Face “Mutually Assured Destruction”