It's been one month...it's time for a report card

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By Angye Morrison

It’s finally happened. The glow in which our new president had basked has faded.

One month after President Barack Obama took his oath of office, 60 percent of Americans approve of the job he’s doing, down from 65 percent three weeks ago. The percentage of people who disapprove has increased to 26 percent, up from 16 percent.

Some would argue that this is due to grumblings among Republicans. But numbers show that in mid-January, the majority of Republicans had a favorable opinion of Obama.

Last month, 76 percent of Americans said they had a positive opinion of the president, while 15 percent reported less than favorable opinions.

The latest measure, from daily surveys conducted Thursday through Saturday, take into account all that has transpired during an event-filled first month in office for the 44th president, from Jan. 20 through Feb. 21: Passage of a $787-billion economic stimulus, announcement of a $275-billion rescue plan for homeowners facing foreclosure or slumping home values, the highest unemployment rate since 1992 and lowest standing of the Dow Jones Industrial average in six years.

It’s anybody’s guess at this point whether the new administration has truly made any difference. According to a poll by FOX News, 45 percent of Americans see real change from the new president’s administration, and 46 percent say it’s more of the same.

But according to www.gallup.com, Obama remains popular in the eyes of Americans. That poll shows 63 percent approve of his job performance, while 24 percent disapprove.

This Web site states that the figures are offset by a decrease in the percentage of Americans who say they have no opinion of the president’s job performance.

The site also states that the current job approval rating is typical of how the “last several presidents have fared at the one-month mark.”

According to www.gop.com, the president’s first month in office has been disappointing. The Web site listed the following:

• Obama pledged to slash earmarks on wasteful spending. The stimulus package has no earmarks.

• The stimulus package is not free of money for special interests, despite promises that wouldn’t occur.

• During the election, Obama promised to give the American public five days to review legislation before signing any bill, what he called, “Sunlight before signing.” To date, this has not happened.

But the president has fulfilled two of his campaign promises in one fell swoop, according to published reports. In announcing the deployment of 17,000 additional troops to Afghanistan, Obama will send two brigades – one army, one marine – to Afghanistan, rather than Iraq, which was the troops’ previous assignment. Diverting these troops is a signal that the withdrawal of our troops from Iraq, as he promised, has begun.

The president did say, as part of his foreign policy manifesto, that he would send reinforcements to the “crucial battlegrounds” in our War on Terror. Afghanistan has been defined as such.

But I have to say, I am stuck on the same three issues raised by the GOP’s site. I was truly disappointed to see that there were no earmarks regarding wasteful spending included in the verbiage of the stimulus package, and don’t even get me started on the money for special interests issue. The president promised me, as a voter, those things wouldn’t happen.

And as for the “Sunlight before signing,” I found that refreshing and promising, both as a journalist and a voter. To have a president in office that would be that transparent was an exciting thought to me.

I was bitterly disappointed. Not only has legislation been signed without the public seeing it first, the stimulus package was rushed through without even our Republican representatives eyeballing it until late in the process. I know that the timeline is crucial, but aren’t promises supposed to be kept, no matter what? Maybe I’m just being naive...

I think that after one month, if I were the one giving the grade on Obama’s report card, I’d have to give him a “B” at this point.

I’m sincerely hoping he’ll do better next semester.