William Katz:  Urgent Agenda

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THE AMERICAN MOOD – AT 9:14 A.M. ET:  It is an American tradition to be optimistic just before a new presidential inauguration.  But a new survey shows there's not much optimism around.  Are Americans already getting buyer's remorse?  From McClatchy:

WASHINGTON — Forget the post-Election Day tradition of a more upbeat America in the weeks after voters go to the polls and make clear what they want from their leaders. A new McClatchy-Marist poll finds that people are gloomy about the economy and Washington’s ability to make it better anytime soon.

And they’re not optimistic about the prospects for meaningful compromise between the White House and congressional Republicans during President Barack Obama’s second term.

Sixty-two percent of voters nationwide think the already-strained relations between the White House and congressional Republicans won’t improve. The two sides face years of contentious issues, starting with next year’s budget and tax battles and very likely including an overhaul of the immigration system.

The downbeat mood has persisted for some time, as people watch Congress and the White House struggle to find common ground even on once-routine government business. The Dec. 4-6 McClatchy-Marist survey showed that attitudes about Obama, Congress and the state of the economy haven’t shifted since the Nov. 6 election.

“The election came and went and not too much has changed,” said Lee Miringoff, the director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, which conducted the national survey.

And...

Obama isn’t even getting a small bump in polls after he decisively beat Republican Mitt Romney last month. His job-approval rating among registered voters was 50 percent, roughly the same as his popular-vote showing.

Republicans in Congress fared worse, even though the party retained a sizable majority in the House of Representatives. Congressional Republicans registered approval with about one in four people, down slightly from March.

Congressional Democrats, who control the Senate, don’t fare much better, with about one in three voters voicing approval.

Overall, registered voters thought the nation continues to head in the wrong direction: Fifty-six percent expressed concern, while 39 percent saw matters heading in the right direction. Fifty-three percent said the worst was yet to come, while 42 percent agreed the worst “is behind us.”

COMMENT:  This is what happens when you have a failure in leadership.  Neither side shines, but the president is the leader of the nation, and he is a failed leader, at best.

And yet, Americans re-elected him.  Have we reached the point in cultural voting where, no matter how bad a president's record, he can be re-elected if he puts together the right cultural coalition of votes?  If we have, we will soon become Europe, or Chicago. 

December 12, 2012