I am tentatively emerging from four very depressing days steeped in grief and despair over two roles I didn’t get, because if I am not cast in a play now, as in this second, two days before last Wednesday, I am a complete fraud and have no right to exist save as a corporate drone and breeder of dull, snot-nosed children. You know, because I’m thirty-two and a woman. Thank the good gourd in Halvah there are news items like this from Gallup.com to make me laugh:
President Barack Obama earns a 68% approval rating from Americans for his first three full days on the job, in interviews conducted Wednesday through Friday.
Um, that’s…great? And what does this portend for our 44th Commander-in-Chief?
The public is generally warmly disposed to newly inaugurated presidents, but a substantial proportion of Americans typically await more information to form their initial judgment. Thus, the no-opinion levels have ranged from a low of 18% for George W. Bush to a high of 43% for George H.W. Bush. The percentage of Americans with no opinion of a president is usually much lower after his first year in office.
The percentages approving of newly inaugurated presidents have ranged from a low of 51% for Ronald Reagan in 1981 and the elder George Bush in 1989 to a high of 72% for John Kennedy in 1961. The average across the last eight elected presidents is 60%.
The three presidents who took office after the death or resignation of their predecessors tended to start out with even greater public support, as the nation rallied around the new chief executive in times of crisis. These include Harry Truman in 1945 with an 87% approval rating, Lyndon Johnson with 78% in 1963, and Gerald Ford with 71% in 1974.
One complicating factor in comparing initial approval ratings for the elected presidents is differences in the timing of the first measurements. The four presidents whose first readings came in January after their inaugurations averaged 55% job approval and 34% no opinion, compared with an average approval rating of 66% and 23% no opinion for the presidents whose first ratings came in February, after they had been in office a bit longer.
But these timing differences hint at the general trend in early approval ratings for elected presidents: as people become more familiar with the presidents and their work over the course of the first several months in office, the already-high percentage approving usually increases. In fact, all but Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter had higher approval ratings about 100 days after taking office. That is why the early months of new presidencies are commonly known as “the honeymoon period.”
Ah. Okay. So, everything and nothing. The usual.
I have to laugh. I mean, I HAVE to fucking laugh, because the alternatives are too depressing to contemplate, and I’m still crawling out of this latest of black holes. I mean, is this news? Seriously, are we that fucking stupid that we need Gallup to tell us the first 100 days of a new presidency, provided the new leader is not the cranial case under whose moronic aegis we suffered for eight years, are a “honeymoon period”?
Maybe it’s not about stupidity, although I would wager the answer is, in part, yes. I mean, yes, we humans are criminally dumb, even the smarter of us. Maybe it’s about despair. Maybe it’s about the black hole of grief and rage in which we’ve been steeped for so long, much longer than the past eight years. We are fucked up. We are miserable. We are broke. But we are human. We want to survive. We want good things in our lives. And eye-rolling cynic that I am, I am far, far from immune. I want that golden goose too, and I want it now. Just like everyone else.
But seriously, three days? Come on, us. Let’s just calm down. Obama’s all right. He’s a Steelers fan, for god’s sake. Let the man do his job. Save the report cards for later. Just give us our golden geese. Now.
Kidding. But not really. I’m working on that, though.