Barack Obama: The Ronald Reagan of Liberalism?

Strikingly similar approval ratings prompt pundits to draw presidential parallels

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Is Obama the liberal reincarnation of Ronald Reagan? A new chart published by is inspiring some insightful comparisons of the two presidents. It shows that during Reagan and Obama's first terms, they experienced remarkably similar approval ratings. The hope among liberals is that Obama will recover from his low approval ratings and pull a landslide second term victory as Reagan did. Here are the parallels pundits have drawn:

  • Strikingly Similar Presidencies, writes Charles Franklin at Pollster: "Both enjoyed significant gains for their party in both houses of Congress. Both faced 'worst since the depression' economic circumstances. And each in his own very different ways attempted to reshape government in the early months in office."
  • Lousy Predecessors, adds Alex Massie at The Spectator: "The Carter and Bush presidencies were, in the end, so disastrous (or considered disastrous) that they permitted the election of candidates who might, in more placid, less desperate times have been too extreme, too strange and too risky for the electorate to take a chance upon. Even then, Reagan was rather more conservative than many voters appreciated; similarly Obama is a more orthodox liberal than many supposed."
  • Equally Polarizing, writes Andrew Sullivan at The Atlantic: "They were both lionized and loathed, and both had problems with their base early on."
  • Comfort on the Stage, writes Howard Fineman in Newsweek. His sources tell him the president and his advisers are looking to Reagan's presidency for inspiration: "He thinks he is Reagan in reverse--a patient, genial game changer for the ages." The similarities abound: "Like Reagan, Obama shares a celebrity's sense of comfort on the (public) stage, a belief in sticking to the script, and a faith in the power of the written word spoken from an imposing rostrum. He also shares Reagan's reverence for the power of a narrative in politics--Reagan, because he was an actor; Obama, because he is a writer."
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