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Barack Obama – the American Idol President

Another day, another poll.  On Wednesday, the latest CNN/Opinion Research poll was released, and to no one’s surprise, President Barack Obama’s approval numbers have declined.  His post-Osama bounce has become a dead terrorist bounce…and the POTUS is back where he was back in April.

But the thing that struck me in this poll, and in CNN’s summary story, was the coverage of Obama’s so-called “personal appeal”

According to the survey Obama’s strength remains his personal appeal: Three-quarters of all Americans say they approve of him personally, including a plurality of Republicans. But positive views of the president’s personality may be trumped by economic jitters.

Yeah.  Americans will probably, at some point, hopefully, become more interested in Obama’s actual accomplishments, rather than his personality and “cool.”  But I find it a bit odd that Obama is still considered appealing and likable, considering his recent descent into surliness. The WSJ’s Daniel Henninger noted this back in April:

In 2007-08, Obama’s high-toned, consistent persona was everything. What else was there? Barack Obama took a blank slate and wrote a masterpiece of a presidential campaign across it. From nothing, this fresh Obama persona defeated the familiar, experienced Hillary Clinton in the primaries. In the general election, he ran famously on “hope and change,” gave a stirring speech on race in America, and persuaded enough moderate and independent voters to turn 2008 into a “historic” American election.

Barack Obama had levitated himself above the usual, dispiriting muck of politics. This new person seemed to be precisely what a disgusted electorate wanted. Candidate Obama embedded that image in the American psyche. He built it. He fed it.

Now he’s deconstructing himself into another Obama. The latest Obama, which seems genuine, routinely ridicules and mocks his opposition. He mocks pretty much anyone who disagrees with him about anything.

As the CNN poll illustrates, Barack Obama, American Idol, has yet to completely lose his appeal.  His mocking and ridicule are generally aimed at Republicans, so Democrats continue to “like” him.

So how does this apply to American Idol?  There are two angles to this illustration.  From a world stage perspective, Obama is still idolized by Europe, despite fumbles such as his botched toast to the Queen of England.  Cal Thomas touched on his “idol” status last week.

Observing the start of Lord and Lady Obama’s (aka president and Michelle) grand European tour and the fawning press coverage, one might conclude they were imbued with royal blood.The normally reserved and thoughtful columnist for the London Times, William Rees-Mogg, gushed about the president’s speech before members of Parliament, comparing him to Winston Churchill. Obama is to Winston Churchill as Lady Gaga is to Ella Fitzgerald. Both are singers, but that’s where the comparison ends.

Daily Telegraph columnist Bryony Gordon claimed to have had a conversation with an unnamed Secret Service agent. She quoted the agent as saying about Michelle Obama, “She has this glamour that I haven’t seen before. She isn’t just a first lady. She is Hollywood.” Gush.

The second, more amusing “Idol” parallel is one noted over at “Bookworm Room” by diarist Don Quixote, who observantly pointed out the similarity between Presidential likeability and how American Idol contestant Pia Toscano was rejected by a popular vote, even though she was widely considered to be one of the top performers in the contest.  American Idol founding father Simon Cowell stated several years ago that the show was more of a popularity contest than a talent contest.  Sound familiar?

Thus has become the White House:  Obama is a fairly popular guy, even though his presidential talent is sorely lacking.  People keep punching the Like button for him, but they don’t seem to think he knows what he’s doing.  But hey, he’d probably be a cool dude to have a beer and shoot pool with.  I find it very odd that he can continue to elicit this kind of emotion, considering this item from the CNN poll story:

Forty-eight percent say that another Great Depression is likely to occur in the next year – the highest that figure has ever reached. The survey also indicates that just under half live in a household where someone has lost a job or are worried that unemployment may hit them in the near future. The poll was conducted starting Friday, when the Labor Department reported that the nation’s jobless rate edged up to 9.1 percent.

Almost half of Americans believe we’re about to enter another Great Depression, yet they think their President is a dandy guy.  Marvelous.

Too bad we can’t vote Obama out with a phone poll, like on TV’s American Idol.  Thankfully in November, 2012 we’ll have the ability to do it via a real poll…the only poll that actually counts.

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