NBC Chafes Obama's Honeymoon Over, But 'It's Not Personal, It's Professional'

“The honeymoon is coming to an end for President Obama,” NBC's Chuck Todd fretted Wednesday night in summarizing a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. “But,” Todd rebounded, “it's not personal. It's professional as now the public appears to be judging the President on some of his actions.” Citing “growing concern about the budget deficit and some of this government interaction into the economy on things like GM,” Todd empathized with how “Obama is now dealing with a public that is judging him more and more for the actions he's taking, and not just the promises he's made.” Underpinning that theme, NBC put “Down to Business” on screen over video of Obama walking.

Todd declared “a solid majority – 56 percent – approve of the job the President's doing,” though “that's down five points from a month ago.” Nonetheless, Todd assured NBC Nightly News viewers, “the President still is personally well-liked,” but he now must deal with how people “have raised their expectations.” As for “how much the President is taking on, the public clearly approves. 60 percent believe his focus should be on a whole range of issues at once.”

The survey also discovered, according to the MSNBC.com summary, that “26 percent view Dick Cheney favorably, which is up eight points from April” while “24 percent view Nancy Pelosi favorably, which is down seven points from April.” Todd didn't mention those findings, but did make time to point out the Republican Party has “hit another all-time low in their public image.”

The MRC's Brad Wilmouth corrected the closed-captioning against the video to provide this transcript of the lead story on the Wednesday, June 17 NBC Nightly News:
BRIAN WILLIAMS: We’re also joined in the newsroom tonight by our political director, and chief White House correspondent for our other big story. We are debuting a new poll tonight with some fascinating new numbers. It’s the new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. It tells us what Americans think of their still new President these days. Chuck Todd is here from Washington to start us off on that. Chuck, some interesting findings.

CHUCK TODD: Well, Brian, look, the honeymoon is coming to an end for President Obama, but it’s not personal. It’s professional as now the public appears to be judging the President on some of his actions. And right now, there’s a growing concern about the budget deficit and some of this government interaction into the economy on things like GM. Five months into office, President Obama is now dealing with a public that is judging him more and more for the actions he’s taking, and not just the promises he’s made. A solid majority – 56 percent – approve of the job the President’s doing. But that’s down five points from a month ago. Mr. Obama lost the most ground among self-described political independents. It was 60 percent. It’s now 46 percent. The President still is personally well-liked, but people like laid-off trucker Howard Bronner of Colorado have raised their expectations.

HOWARD BRONNER: I think people like him personality-wise. He comes across very positive. Policy-wise, it’s difficult because things haven’t changed that much.

TODD: The new big issue with the public, 69 percent are concerned about the increased government intervention into the economy, in particular the takeover of General Motors. 53 percent of respondents disapproved of the government’s decision to bail out Chrysler and GM. Kathy Delanois, a political independent from Illinois, captured that sentiment.

KATHY DELANOIS: I think that they need to have an exit strategy. We’re not hearing anything about that, and I think it’s because they don’t really know. We don’t know what the future holds.

TODD: A substantial majority – 58 percent – say the government should focus more on controlling the budget deficit than on boosting the economy. Peggy Avalar of California summed it up.

PEGGY AVALAR: Where are we going to get the money to get rid of it?

TODD: Despite these worries, there is growing optimism about the economy: 46 percent say it will get better in the next year, the highest level of optimism in four years. Pearl Davis of New York City:

PEARL DAVIS: -the fear that we are headed for complete devastation, I think that that doesn’t exist anymore, that we’re slowly coming into more of a recovery.

BARACK OBAMA: -that our system badly needs reform-

TODD: As for the President’s big summer fight to pass health care reform, 76 percent say it’s important that any reform include a choice between a government insurance plan and a private one, including Mark Richardson of Virginia.

MARK RICHARDSON: Do I want to become socialist and have the government take over health care? No. I just want that to be an option.

TODD: On the question of how much the President is taking on, the public clearly approves. 60 percent believe his focus should be on a whole range of issues at once.

DELANOIS: He’s got a big job. He’s got to make a difference in a lot of areas, and he’s got to do it now. It remains to be seen whether a lot of these initiatives are going to actually work. The jury’s out.

TODD: Well, the jury may not be out on two political issues. Judge Sonia Sotomayor, she’s being well-received by the public, as well-received as Chief Justice John Roberts was when he was nominated. And, Brian, the Republican Party is not benefitting from any of this hesitancy in President Obama. They have hit another all-time low in their public image.
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center