Wednesday, June 10, 2009
During the 6th season of American Idol in 2006, Sanjaya Malakar caused uproar in pop culture by advancing to 7th place. For those of you who may not know, American Idol is a reality TV show where young contestants complete in a singing contest and viewers vote on who they thought did the best job. What made this event in reality TV history so monumental was how Sanjaya managed to accomplish this feat. Nearly all other contestants had advanced on singing talent and stage presence. Sanjaya on the other hand advanced because people liked him.
Reality TV’s shtick is to publicize every contestant’s background story. The viewers then get to watch those stories play out on their TV. If the show is good, people feel as though the contestant’s life story has resulted in a reciprocal outcome on the show. There is more to it of course. Story alone is not everything. Watchers also make judgments regarding how the contestants carry themselves on camera and interact with the other contestants.
I apologize for my digression into the realm of pop culture. However, after over 10 years of reality TV our culture has become obsessed with being involved in completing and finishing their favorite celebrity’s life story.
So how does this relate to politics? Despite overwhelming public opposition to nearly all of Obama’s policies, Obama’s approval ratings remain around 60%. If you don’t believe me that many people do not agree with Obama, here is a little expose:
* 45% of American’s (a majority of those surveyed) believe the rest of Obama’s stimulus should be canceled
* 62% of American’s feel that economic recovery is more important than transfer of wealth
* 49% of American’s (a majority of those surveyed) believe that health care reform should wait
* 62% of American’s believe Iran should halt nuclear development before Obama meets with them
* 45% of people opposed the government auto loans, 80% feared that the government would get too involved and 72% opposed Obama getting more involved in February
* 49% oppose closing Guantanamo and 56% oppose bringing detainees to the US
Not all polls have been negative for Obama. Most people approve of his Supreme Court pick, Sotomayor, and believed that he should have done some type of stimulus plan. So what’s keeping his numbers up?
Those I’ve talked to on the left believe that the election of Obama points at a shift to the left in the country and an acceptance of the leftist agenda. Polling doesn't seem to indicate this argument holds water. I have a different take.
Obama truly has an amazing story. He was shuffled around as a child, was not born into the US elite, and from what we can guess (because no one will let us look at actual documentation), Obama is a self-made success. I propose that there is a large number of Americans that voted for and continue to support Obama, because they want to see a positive completion to the Obama story.
Now I can’t complain about Obama promoting himself for political gain. After all, that’s what politics is about. However, a recent PEW survey shows why Obama has been and continues to be successful in promoting himself over and above of the negative public opinion of his agenda. According to the article, the media coverage of Obama has been largely skewed in the favorable direction, 42% favorable coverage versus 20% unfavorable. The more convincing fact in this study is the nature of the stories. News stories of Obama’s personal and leadership qualities and not Obama’s policies are at an astounding 44% of media coverage.
Could it be that the media wants the public to continue to focus on helping the story of Obama end in success as opposed to pointing out that a majority of people do not agree with Obama? Hard to believe when this same playbook for Obama is being used to push Sotomayor’s confirmation. When she was announced the media was abuzz about her story, not her qualifications.
There are consequences to all actions and although the media may be pulling the wool over the eyes of the public where Obama's policies is concerned, that coverage does not extend to congress. For those of you who believe that the Republicans are irrelevant and will continue to dwindle in the 2010 elections, take a look at the new poll from Rasmussen pictured below. It shows America's trust on issues by party.
What is most interesting about the poll is a shift in public support away from the Democrats and towards Republicans. Left Coast Rebel has an excellent commentary on this new trend entitled "Tides of Opinion - Candles Burning Half as Long".