Gulf Oil Spill is Tarring Obama's Approval Ratings

Obama is paying the price because the public recognizes his policy shift, and witnessing the destruction offshore oil drilling can have on the environment.

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By Bonnie Erbe, Thomas Jefferson Street blog

I agree with my esteemed colleague Mary Kate Cary that the Deepwater Horizon spill is becoming President Obama’s version of Hurricane Katrina, which started to turn American public opinion against former President George W. Bush.

I add reference to one more public opinion poll released this afternoon by USA Today which shows:

Nearly three-fourths of those surveyed Monday and Tuesday say BP is doing a "poor" or "very poor" job in handling the calamity. Six of 10 say that of the federal government. And a 53 percent majority give Obama a poor rating … The 55 percent-39 percent divide on that question was a reversal of American views in March, before the April 20 explosion sent crude oil spewing into the gulf. Then, by 50 percent-43 percent Americans said development U.S. energy supplies should be given priority, "even if the environment suffers to some extent."

But I should also like to distinguish between Mr. Bush’s mishandling of or failure to notice the importance of the Katrina aftermath and President Obama’s typical 180-degree turn around on the Gulf oil spill. President Obama, while candidate Obama, opposed offshore oil drilling. He took off his “progressive” suit after winning the White House and put on his “pragmatic” middle-ground suit. When public demand for lower oil prices rose, he conveniently changed his position and allowed as how perhaps offshore oil drilling wasn’t so bad. He was against it until he was for it.

Now he’s paying the price because the public recognizes his policy shift, and witnessing the destruction offshore oil drilling can have on the environment. Mr. Obama’s propensity for 180s should not have come as a surprise to the America public, but it is now. 2012 is already getting more interesting.

  • Check out our editorial cartoons on the Gulf oil spill.
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  • Read more coverage of the political stories of the year.