Truth be told, this is really an old story. However, after discussing this issue with friends over brunch, I came to the realization that this story did not get nearly as much publicity as it should have back in January when Public Policy Polling first released the numbers. Moreover, I wanted to address the topic again using the newest polling data on Congress’ approval ratings, which coincidentally was released just a few days ago.
Lots of people like to focus their attention on the shortcomings of the Obama Administration, but less attention is paid to Congress, the branch of government that actually has the power to make laws. This is an unfortunate fact, as aside from the executive power that the President has unilaterally via the Constitution, the fact is the executive branch operates at the directive of Congress. It’s how our system of checks and balances works, or at least how it is supposed to. When Congress is dysfunctional and members of both parties cannot compromise with each other (like we see in both the Senate and the House) and/or the party who holds a majority in Congress or more specifically in the House (in this case Republicans) refuses to compromise with the President, they make it extremely difficult for the President to get anything done.
By way of example, the President vowed to close Guantanamo Bay, but has been hamstrung by Congressional Republicans who attached a poison pill rider to the defense spending bill that ties the President’s hands and prevents him from shutting down the prison.
Getting to the point. Back in January, PPP did a poll where they asked voters whether they had a higher opinion of either Congress or a series of unpleasant or disliked things.
The results were laughable but also extremely sad. According to the PPP press release:
“Voters said they had a higher opinion of root canals (32 for Congress and 56 for the dental procedure), NFL replacement refs (29-56), head lice (19-67), the rock band Nickelback (32-39), colonoscopies (31-58), Washington DC political pundits (34-37), carnies (31-39), traffic jams (34-56), cockroaches (43-45), Donald Trump (42-44), France (37-46), Genghis Khan (37-41), used-car salesmen (32-57), and Brussels sprouts (23-69) than Congress.”
At the time, Congress’ overall approval rating was holding steady at 9%. Today, as of the most recent polling numbers which were released three days ago, the Congressional approval rating increased to a whopping 12%. This means that if the PPP poll was conducted again today, head lice would most likely still be at least three times more popular than Congress — although they might almost be more popular than cockroaches. Think about that for a minute — people would overwhelmingly prefer head lice, root canals and carnies to Congress. I don’t know about you, but just thinking about head lice gives me the skeeves and I’ve never had them. Moreover, as someone who has had a root canal, I can tell you from first hand experience it is less than pleasant.
In closing, it is no secret that the President has been more than willing to reach across the aisle to attempt compromise with Congressional House Republicans on more than one occasion; much to the dismay of many on the left. The real problem with our current government isn’t the President (albeit that doesn’t mean he is perfect or that I agree with him on every issue) it is a Congress that cannot get it’s act together. Many of them would rather yell and scream at each other like whiny toddlers and rub sand in each other’s eyes like they were all at the playground, instead of actually working together and with the President to get something done. Even Democrats in the Senate have attempted to compromise with Senate Republicans on more then one occasion (also to the dismay of many on the left) only to be mocked by Senate Republicans later through their obstructionist overuse of the filibuster, which they use to block pretty much every piece of legislation proposed. Unfortunately for us, until 2014 comes and we can vote the obstructionists out of Congress or until members of Congress decide to stop rubbing sand in each other’s eyes and get to work, Congress will remain far less popular than head lice. Even worse, little if anything positive will get done for our country.