Opinion: Happy New Year, President Obama; Your job approval’s down again


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The president is still on vacation today -- maybe some more left-handed golf and finishing up John LeCarre’s ‘Our Kind of Traitor.’

Congress is still off too, of course, for two more days. Which actually seems like a good thing to many because the last time they were in town for the 111th Congress those Democratic majorities added more to the national debt than the first 100 Congresses combined.


However, most of the real world is back at work with considerable catching-up to do:

Obama pays no attention to opinion polls, of course, because he’s so focused on the nation’s well-being. Which is probably another good thing because the president’s job approval has started down again.

After all the pre-holiday hoopla over the ‘productive’ lame-duck session of Congress that....

...only added a trillion dollars to the national debt, the Democrat’s end-of-his-second-year approval rating has declined to 47% from 49%, with 46% disapproving of his job performance, according to Gallup. A year ago Obama closed out 2009 with a job approval in the 53-51% range. Over the weekend Obama said jobs are really his Job One now still again. That’s been an annual mantra for the ex-state senator for three years now. Unemployment remains just below 10%, higher among 83 Democratic former House members.

How Do You Say ‘No Way!’ in Mandarin?

Also over the weekend Newsweek, whose new owner recently paid an entire $1 to acquire the historic newsweekly, reported that Obama’s ambassador to China, Utah’s Republican former Gov. Jon Huntsman, was pondering entry into the crowded 2012 GOP presidential primary process.

In 2009, Obama’s political brilliance was hailed for picking Huntsman, a moderate Republican who speaks fluent Mandarin.

This was because 1) it looked bipartisan, 2) it got a rising GOP star out of the country a while and 3) it would seem to neuter Huntsman politically by getting him on the administration team, a la Hillary Clinton.

Less noticed, however, was that such overseas duty gives the Rocky Mountain pol valuable foreign policy experience for the resume in case someday he seeks to live in the White House and surpass Harry Reid as the nation’s highest elected Mormon.

James Fallows over at the Atlantic is among those not buying the 2012 Huntsman gambit, even though the current diplomat from Utah with the large family has purchased a large house in Washington.

Fallows thinks it’s just a useful leak to boost the ambassador’s effectiveness with Chinese officials, who now know they might be dealing with a future POTUS. Not such a strange theory. After all, someone named George H. W. Bush headed U.S. affairs there under President Ford.

Either way, Huntsman won’t mind having his name in the chatter mix, if only for 2016.

Speaking of the Benevolent Glorious Party Chairman

Today is the D.C. debate among most contenders for the currently dubious honor of chairman of the Republican National Committee. The forum at the National Press Club is co-sponsored by the Daily Caller and Americans for Tax Reform and will be livestreamed right here at 10 a.m. Pacific (1 p.m. EST and 6 p.m. GMT). The party election is just two weeks away and embattled incumbent Michael Steele has four challengers.

According to HotlineonCall’s latest head count, almost half of the committee’s 168 members are committed to a candidate, with Wisconsin state party chair Reince Priebus in the lead with 30, twice the 15 announced so far for Steele.

Ann Wagner, Saul Anuzis and Maria Cino are the others vying for the 85 votes necessary for victory.

The Terminator’s Political Life Terminates?

California’s Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger leaves office today. Judging from his exit interview with The Times editorial board, the professed Republican would like to work for the Obama administration in the environmental area.

Our blogging pal Margot Roosevelt over here on Greenspace takes a detailed look at the outgoing Hummer driver’s environmental legacy.

Schwarzenegger will be succeeded by Democratic ex-governor Jerry Brown.

Speaking of union ownership

A New York City Councilman, Dan Halloran, charges that the city’s sanitation crews intentionally slowed snow-plowing operations during and after last week’s blizzard that dumped so much white stuff on Gotham.

Halloran says workers admitted the slowdown involved skipping some major arteries, working slowly to accrue greater overtime pay and driving with plows several inches above the roadway to leave streets dangerously slippery with snow, especially for emergency vehicles.

They said this was ordered by union leaders angered over Mayor Michael Bloomberg‘s budget cuts, layoffs and demotion of supervisors to lower pay grades.

Gee, just imagine what these guys will do once some elected officials start seeking savings from the cherished union pension plans.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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