Six months into his presidency and a new poll has Barack Obama’s domestic approval rating one percentage point lower than that of his predecessor’s. Obama’s handling of the economy appears to be key to his fading popularity, as Americans become more pessimistic about how long it will take for the economic downturn to end.
But while the critics back home may be gaining ground, abroad, confidence in America’s first black president and his performance on the world stage is rising. If a 94 percent confidence rating in Kenya, where his father was born, is perhaps predictable, his improved popularity elsewhere is less so.Andrew Kohut of Pew Reasearch Centre said: “The US favourability rating has increased markedly in Western Europe, in major countries of Asia, Latin America. In Germany, for example, 30% last year said they have a favourable view of the United States. This year it’s 64%.” But among Arab countries, attitudes appear to be more firmly entrenched. Despite Obama’s Cairo speech to the Muslim world there appears to be a profound distrust about US influence and motives. Andrew Kohut confirmed this by pointing out there has been less positive change for views about the United States in the Muslim world where the public remain either moderately negative or highly negative towards the United states. Are there lessons to be learnt from the Bush administration, which eventually turned him into one of the country’s least popular presidents? Despite the falling polls, Obama is still seen by two thirds of the US public as a decisive leader, but reform of the US healthcare system could turn out to be Obama’s Waterloo.