Mr. Popularity Goes To Washington

Can’t nobody take my pride, can’t nobody hold me down:

Less than a week before taking office, President-elect Obama himself also enjoys very high ratings, with 71% approving of the way he is handling his transition, according to a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.

“On a series of measures — from being seen as easygoing and likable to being perceived as a good commander-in-chief — Mr. Obama rated higher than President George W. Bush or former President Bill Clinton did shortly before they took office.”

[Emphasis mine]

Well, getting high marks for personality traits is fine, but what about Obama’s support on policy?

On the economic stimulus package: “By a nearly 2-to-1 ratio, people preferred government spending to create jobs over tax cuts to give Americans more money to spend. Large majorities endorsed many details in the plan, with 89% saying they like the idea of creating jobs through increasing production of renewable energy and making public buildings more energy efficient.”

That ought to raise a few red flags over on the Republican side of the aisle. I guess those newly-minted conservative deficit hawks are going to have a tough time convincing everyone that the deficit is more important than the full collapse of the economy.

But don’t worry, Republicans–not all is lost. Some of your Senators can see the writing on the wall:

In comments published Wednesday, Obama received high marks from Republican senators.

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), who worked with Obama on government transparency issues in the Senate, offered Obama unconditional praise.

“I think he is sincere — all the time,” Coburn told Roll Call. “I believe it because I know him.”

“He and his staff have done a good job of reaching out to us,” Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) added. “I hope his tone is reflected in the Senate Majority Leader’s tone.”

Sen. [Olympia] Snowe, who generally votes with the Republican caucus but sometimes provides support to Democrats, said Obama’s approach differs markedly from Bush’s. Bush rarely — if ever — appeared on the Hill, and oftentimes when he did it was only for public events, like St. Patrick’s Day.

Obama is “reaching out early on and setting the tone from the start by which, optimally, he will govern,” Snowe remarked.

“Everyone wants him to be successful,” Alabama senator Jeff Sessions added.

Yeah, I know, it won’t last; Obama’s popularity will inevitably sink.  But considering everything Bush managed to accomplish despite his abysmal approval ratings, I have high hopes that Obama will be a lot better and more effective than his predecessor.

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