Americans can be a gracious people. Especially after a new president takes office, it has long been traditional of most Americans to put aside political differences and give the new guy a chance. “I didn’t vote for him,” John Wayne once said, “But he’s my president, and I hope he does a good job.”
Two new polls seem to indicate most Americans are still magnanimous, even in this day and age:
•According to a Washington Post / ABC News poll released yesterday, 68% of Americans approve of President Obama’s job performance.
•A similar poll, sponsored by The New York Times and CBS News, and also released yesterday, found that 63% of Americans approve of President Obama’s job performance.
•The Washington Post / ABC News poll went further to ask how many people approve of the way the Republicans in Congress are handling their jobs. In contrast to President Obama’s high job approval rating, the poll found only 38% of Americans approve of the Republican’s job performance.
•The New York Times / CBS News poll asked the question, “Which do you think should be a higher priority for Republicans in Congress right now — working in a bipartisan way with Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress or sticking to Republican policies?”
An overwhelming majority (79%) responded that working in a bipartisan way should be a higher priority for Republicans right now than sticking to Republican policies. Only 17% thought it should be the other way around.
In some ways, the bi-partisan support for President Obama, found by both polls, is aptly expressed by Rosemary Wedel, a 65-year-old Republican from Richmond, Texas.
Ms. Wedel participated in the New York Times / CBS News poll and, according to the Times, “…said in a follow-up interview that she had not voted for Mr. Obama last fall, but that she approved of how he had performed in his first month in office. ‘I think it’s going to cost us more, but I trust his political savvy’.”
I sometimes wonder, however, if the traditional magnanimity of most Americans can withstand the unhinged minority of folks among us who apparently lack all respect for that tradition. It seems that minority is given a national podium by Fox News and certain other media corporations, and that it is bent on demonizing President Obama and polarizing the country.
For instance: One American described Sean Hannity’s recent rants thus:
Every day it’s “The Messiah” and “The Anointed One” with his “European Socialist Spending Bill of 2009” and “the end of Freedom as We Know it” blah blah blah I just hope he really IS furious and scared and angry and as close to bursting a blood vessel as he appears to be; however I suspect it’s all just a BS act….
When you are not wondering how Hannity can be so petty and mean-spirited, you are wondering whether he’s really as unhinged as he seems, or just putting on an act. But either way, it’s pathetic.
Perhaps Rush Limbaugh is even more pathetic these days than Sean Hannity. Responding to calls for “compromise” and “bi-partisanship”, Limbaugh said, “Should Jesus have made a deal with Satan?” To have thus likened himself (or perhaps the Republicans) to Jesus, and President Obama (or perhaps the Democrats) to Satan, would seem to require a childlike appreciation for black and white thinking. But, whatever the case, neither Hannity nor Limbaugh can be legitimately accused of showing the same gracious and traditional magnanimity towards the new President as was shown so many years ago by John Wayne, or is still shown today by folks like Rosemary Wedel.