What Do 49 Percent Approve of?

I'm a marketing guy. I'm good at it, and if need be, I can figure out how to sell shaved ice cones to Eskimos or pig manure to pig farmers. But I usually prefer devoting my talents to worthy products and services that benefit consumers. For that reason, I feel sorry for the present White House Press Secretary, humiliated by the product he has to go out and sell.


From a marketing standpoint, the president's 49 percent approval rating is a mystery. I don't think you can sustain 49 percent customer approval for a product that doesn't work. And this one seems to be reacting to multiple crises by doing anything but work.


Imagine if, immediately after the 9-11 attacks, President Bush had been on ESPN with his predictions for some upcoming sports event, wedged in between golf outings and a trip to Rio for Carnivale - or, in his case, more likely a chili cook-off in Rio Grande.


Even MSNBC's Chris Matthews didn't have the old thrill up his leg while watching Obama in action this past week. He grumbled that Hillary appeared more the president than did Obama, regarding Libya. A weekend New York Times article also depicted Hillary in charge, an un-engaged Obama finally pressured into signing off on the plan she crafted and sold to foreign leaders and other members of his administration.


Obama did manage a brief speech about Libya, from Brazil, standing next to its leader, who refused to behave as an ally and support or contribute to the mission - which should have been sufficient cause to cancel the visit there altogether, not sanction the opt-out with photo op.


Different conclusions can be drawn.


The president is a fellow in way, way over his head, who simply disconnects under stress. Too much to deal with, he abstains and abdicates, sort of like all those "present" votes when he was ever so briefly a Senator.


Or the people really making all the decisions had so much on their plates they lacked time to handle him too, so he was told to just go out and play because the adults were busy. Maybe he's only needed to give speeches.


Or something more sinister is afoot, and we can't discern his genius and determined effort as it is all hidden behind a master-scheme far from what we as patriotic Americans can imagine. I have my own opinion about which scenario is playing out.


Regardless, there's nothing here to justify 49 percent of the American people feeling good about this guy. He has disappointed the left at nearly every turn. His promise to join the union protestors at their marches has proven as empty as OJ's promise to spend every waking moment searching for the real killer. He discovered or knew all along that Gitmo can't be closed, military tribunals must be held. He has upped the ante on his chosen war in Afghanistan, while simultaneously, preposterously saying he is getting us out of it. He's lost control over the Afghan government, and this week, Pakistan told to wee-wee up a rope too.


For the middle class, he has produced no recession relief. Gas prices, inflation, unemployment - they'll all worse in his hands. Remember his messianic arrival and his massive spending and subsidies? They've multiplied our debt at a dizzying pace to and inconceivable number, without doing any of what he promised they would. Anyone concerned with the financial health and security of the country can't be pleased.


His #1 bragging right, the passage of a still incomprehensible health care takeover has produced court challenges from states (plural). With more than 1,000 hastily agreed to, discriminatory exemptions, it appears more a larder for special interests and lobbyists, and political chicanery than anything else. So far, it's actually pushed peoples' health insurance premiums and health care costs up.


Go down anybody's list - liberal, conservative, middle-of-roader, rich, poor, middle, black, white, gay … anybody: what is it that 49percent find to approve of?


Whenever I press an admitted Obama supporter to explain what good he has done, the best they can muster is that things might be much worse if he hadn't done all he's done. Farmers put up scarecrows, crows still feed on their crops, but they wonder if the crows would do more damage if the scarecrows weren't put on guard. This justifies 49 percent approval?


As he is, more so than any prior president, the media's chosen one, they continue to do their best not to shine spotlights on the failures in every category of presidential responsibility; to give quick "let's just move on" to fiddling-while-Rome-burn exercises like the basketball bracket handicapping for ESPN.


With increasing frequency, though, even Matthews shakes his head, grumbles, whines about his chosen one's "odd" behavior. That can't bode well.