It seems real enough now after several impressive weeks from the president, as the Tea Party suffers a big jump in unfavorable ratings to Palin levels. From Obama's tax cut deal to repealing DADT to ratifying START and the South Korea free trade agreement followed by his flawless performance in the wake of the Tucson shootings ... Americans are warming to him. Gallup now has him back up at 48 percent with disapproval at a year's low; ABC News has him at 54 percent. The ABC poll also showed a sharp shift in the right/wrong direction numbers, which have been headed in the wrong direction for a long, long time. The right track just jumped from 27 to 38 percent in the past three months and the wrong track dropped from 71 to 60. Obama is more trusted on every major issue than the GOP, including the budget deficit, except healthcare where they're tied. By 44 - 35 percent, the public would prefer the country go in Obama's direction rather than the GOP's.
The deficit is the second highest priority for voters after the economy. Which prods me once again to argue that the State of the Union should focus on ending our long-term debt. Obama has the ears of the country and has gotten a segment of previously skeptical Americans to give him a second look. Those voters want to see signs of real seriousness and leadership on spending and debt. My view is that Obama needs to embrace Bowles-Simpson, or a variation thereof, and challenge both parties to come to a long-term budget deal he can sign. Call their bluff, in other words - stay ahead of the GOP on tax-and-spending candor.