Barack Obama’s 50% approval rating is the worst first-year score of any postwar president save Ronald Reagan, but things worked out pretty well for the Gipper, so the White House isn’t panicking. “But serenity isn’t the same as complacency,” warns Eugene Robinson in the Washington Post. If Obama wants to be a “transformational” president like Reagan, he’s got some hurdles to clear—most notably closing the “enthusiasm gap.”
Republicans are brimming with tea party enthusiasm, but Obama frankly hasn’t given his liberal base much to cheer about. Health care reform is so riddled with compromises that it’ll earn only polite applause. There’s probably little more he could have done economically, but the lack of urgency around job creation and foreclosures is galling. “The takeaway, is that Obama has to be seen as fighting for more than ‘the best we could hope for,’” Robinson writes.