|President Barack Obama: UK Telegraph|
Throughout this long year, President Obama's advisers have sometimes looked to Ronald Reagan for comparison and inspiration. If the Gipper could survive a deep recession, low approval ratings and an adverse midterm election in his first two years and win reelection handily two years later, then Obama could easily do the same, they reason.
Obama's presidency has looked like Reagan's in some broad ways. Both men succeeded unpopular presidents of the opposite party. Both offered big and bold plans -- Reagan with massive tax cuts, Obama with a massive stimulus and national health care -- that set the country in a new direction. Reagan's goal was to shrink government. Obama's efforts have enlarged government.
Both presidents were forced by events that preceded their elections to contend with economies in serious trouble. Both saw the unemployment rate rise sharply during their first two years in office -- under Reagan, the unemployment rate hit 10.8 percent by November 1982 -- and both saw their approval ratings decline as the numbers of jobless grew.
For much of this year, Obama and his team have taken some solace from the fact that Reagan's approval ratings were even lower at comparable points in his presidency. That is no longer the case. In the past week, Obama has hit a new low in his approval rating, according to Gallup's daily tracking. It now stands at 42 percent, virtually identical to Reagan's in August 1982. (Both Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter dipped below 40 percent during their second year in office.)
(Click here to read the full story on the Washington Post website.)