Hold Those Poll Numbers – Obama Produces Results, Not Theater

President Barack Obama

First, word from the latest CBS poll:

Most Americans do not believe President Obama has a clear plan to deal with the oil spill in the Gulf, according to a new CBS News/New York Times poll.

Just 32 percent say Mr. Obama has a clear plan to deal with the oil leak, while 59 percent (including 64 percent of Gulf coast residents) say he does not.

The numbers are not much better among those who watched the president’s Oval Office speech on the spill last week, with 35 percent of that group saying he has a clear plan and 56 percent saying he does not.

The spill isn’t the only issue on which the president is seen as lacking a plan of action: Just 41 percent say Mr. Obama has a clear plan for developing new sources of energy, while 45 percent say he has no clear plan. And when it comes to creating jobs, just 34 percent say he has a clear plan; 54 percent say he does not.

A majority of Americans – 61 percent – says the president’s response to the oil spill was too slow. Just 31 percent say they have “a lot” of confidence in his ability to handle a crisis, though a majority has at least some confidence that he can do so. Since January, the percentage who says Mr. Obama has strong qualities of leadership has fallen from 70 percent to 62 percent.

Overall, 43 percent approve of Mr. Obama’s handling of the oil spill, while 47 percent disapprove.

I remember listening to Cokie Roberts speak at a luncheon of the Inland Press Association a few years ago. I was actually looking forward to her presentation. The 2008 Presidential Election was still before us, and I was hoping for some insider wisdom from one of America’s most popular journalists.

When she opened her mouth, she graced us with poll numbers, the absolute “latest ABC poll results.” She presented us a good 20 minutes of meaningless drivel, letting us in on which way the winds had most recently blown.

It was rather sad. Cokie tried to prognosticate, didn’t even try to elucidate.

I was critical of President Obama after his speech last Tuesday evening. I wrote that I did not feel reassured by what the President said. I thought he sounded weak, and concluded with higher expectations for the morrow:

At any rate, I hope the President shows more spark tomorrow when he meets with BP execs. behind closed doors. If BP’s royalty don’t emerge from their meeting with POTUS looking like they just had a “Come-to-Jesus” moment, well, shame on President Obama.

The next day came the big announcement:

President Barack Obama wrested a $20 billion compensation guarantee and an apology to the nation from British oil giant BP Wednesday, announcing the company would set up a major claims fund for shrimpers, restaurateurs and others whose lives and livelihoods are being wrecked by the oil flooding into the Gulf of Mexico.

Applause broke out during a community meeting in Orange Beach, Ala., on the news.

“We asked for that two weeks ago and they laughed at us,” Mayor Tony Kennon said. “Thank you, President Obama, for taking a bunch of rednecks’ suggestion and making it happen.”

That floored me. Yes, $20 billion might be pocket change for BP in the long run, but it’s quite a bit for the people suffering loss – financial and otherwise – from the oil spill. Some members of the GOBP, like good old Joe Barton, criticized the agreement, calling it a “shakedown” and worse. Yes, Barton later apologized for that “misconstrued misconstruction,” or whatever. Members of the far right shuddered that there was no “due process,” as if every wrong can only be made right in this country by lengthy and extremely costly litigation.

President Obama simply cut through the red tape. If BP wanted to, they could certainly, even now, seek remedy in the courts — but that isn’t likely.

The President has resisted doing theater as Commander in Chief. Those moments are for campaigns, perhaps. A $20 billion (so far) agreement between a private corporation responsible for the worst environmental disaster ever in the Unted States and the highest elected official representing the people of this country — that’s incredible.

Put away the poll numbers. The media wants theater at every turn.

“No-Drama Obama” gets results.