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Obama at the fiscal responsibility summit yesterday. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

President Obama goes into tonight's big event in a commanding position, despite the enormous challenges he and the country face.

He is vastly more popular than the members of Congress he is addressing, and the American public strongly supports the policies he has advanced so far.

In fact, two new polls show not only that Americans are resoundingly behind him, but that they want his political opponents to back down and let him govern.

On the issue of bipartisanship, something of an inside-the-Beltway obsession, the public actually thinks Obama has gone too far, while Republicans haven't gone far enough. According to the New York Times/CBS News Poll, a whopping 79 percent of Americans think working in a bipartisan way is more important for Republicans than sticking to their party's policies. By contrast, 56 percent think it's more important for Obama to stick to the policies he campaigned on than to reach out.

Obama's approval rating is dropping slightly because support from Republicans is plummeting. But overall, the numbers suggest that the Republican Party's decision to redefine itself in opposition to Obama and his stimulus package may simply accelerate its transformation to a regional party without much of a national foothold.

Michael A. Fletcher and Jon Cohen write in The Washington Post: "Large majorities of Americans in a new Washington Post-ABC News poll support his $787 billion economic stimulus package and the recently unveiled $75 billion plan to stem mortgage foreclosures. Nearly seven in 10 poll respondents said Obama is delivering on his pledge to bring needed change to Washington, and about eight in 10 said he is meeting or exceeding their expectations. At the same time, however, the bipartisan support he enjoyed as he prepared to take office has eroded substantially amid stiff Republican opposition to his major economic initiatives.

"Thirty-seven percent of Republicans now approve of how he has done his job, a sharp drop from a month ago, when 62 percent gave him good marks for his handling of the transition...

"Americans put far more faith in Obama than in congressional Republicans: Sixty-one percent said they trust Obama more than the GOP on economic matters; 26 percent side with the Republicans in Congress. On that question, Obama's advantage is bigger than George W. Bush, Bill Clinton or George H.W. Bush ever had over the opposition party in the legislature.

"Overall, Democrats maintain an edge of nearly 2 to 1 over Republicans as the party that Americans prefer to confront 'the big issues' over the next few years."

Here are the complete results.

Jeff Zeleny and Megan Thee-Brenan write in the New York Times: "President Obama is benefiting from remarkably high levels of optimism and confidence among Americans about his leadership, providing him with substantial political clout as he confronts the nation's economic challenges and opposition from nearly all Republicans in Congress, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.

"A majority of people surveyed in both parties said Mr. Obama was striving to work in a bipartisan way, but most Americans faulted Republicans for their response to the president, saying the party had objected to the $787 billion economic stimulus plan for political reasons. Most Americans said Mr. Obama should pursue the priorities he campaigned on, the poll found, rather than seek middle ground with Republicans....

"A month into Mr. Obama's term, with his first big accomplishments, setbacks and political battles behind him, more than three-quarters of Americans said they are optimistic about the next four years with him as president. Similar percentages said they think he is bringing real change to the way things are done in Washington and that they have confidence in his ability to make the right decisions about the economy."

Here are those results. Obama's 63 percent approval rating is precisely the mirror image of Congress's 63 percent disapproval rating. And consider this: 74 percent think Obama is trying to work with Republicans in Congress in order to get things done, while 57 percent think the Republicans aren't doing the same; 79 percent think that, for Republicans, working in a bipartisan way is more important than sticking to their party's policies, while 56 percent think that for Obama, sticking to the policies he campaigned on is more important than reaching out; and 76 percent are either somewhat or very confident in Obama's ability to make the right decisions about the economy.

Susan Page of USA Today has more from a Gallup Poll: "As President Obama outlines his priorities to a joint session of Congress Tuesday night, Americans overwhelmingly support new spending to help individuals — including creating jobs and rescuing struggling homeowners — but oppose bailouts for automakers and banks."

I wrote about the expectations for tonight's congressional address in this post yesterday.

Tom Brune writes for Newsday: "There are a lot of moving parts to the way he is addressing the economy, and he has to explain, in clear language to Congress and the nation, just how they fit together and work."

Ben Feller writes for the Associated Press: "Barreling ahead on a mammoth agenda, Barack Obama is ready to offer a detailed sketch of the first year of his presidency, casting the nation's bleeding economy as a tangle of tough, neglected problems....

"White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Tuesday that Obama will provide more details about his financial stability plan and measures to help the economy while delivering 'a sober assessment about where we are and the challenges we face.'

"'He'll say we're on the right path to meeting these challenges, and there are better days ahead,' Gibbs said."

Feller notes: "Daily followers of Obama's rhetoric are not likely to be surprised by Obama's words, some of which will be repeating. He is trying to reach millions of people who don't get to hear him every day.

"So Obama will say that the crises facing the nation are so large they can only be solved in bipartisan ways. He will be blunt about the country's woes but try to balance that talk with optimism. He will talk about his travels as president so he can focus on the stories of communities outside Washington."

There's a lot of focus in today's coverage on the proper balance between hope -- and fear.

Edwin Chen and Kim Chipman write for Bloomberg: "President Barack Obama, who spent the last month warning of the dangers facing the U.S. economy to win support for his recovery plan, is under pressure to begin fostering public optimism.

"Obama has rolled out three major initiatives -- a $787 billion stimulus bill, a bank-rescue plan, and an effort to limit home foreclosures. Now, as he addresses his first joint session of Congress before a nationwide audience tonight, he must encourage lawmakers and voters to believe the plan can work, political analysts and economists say."

Jonathan Martin writes for Politico that Obama's primary challenge is "how to balance inspiration and exhortation with detail and specifics....

"Obama aides say he'll use the prime-time setting — his most high-profile platform since being sworn in last month — to delve into a broader range of issues that he has not yet devoted significant attention to because of the focus on the stimulus package.

"He'll key in on education, health care, energy and reducing the budget deficit — and attempt to tie them together into a larger discussion about his vision for the economic growth of the country."

Michael Scherer writes for Time about five themes to look for tonight, including Obama's continued differentiation of himself from George W. Bush. Being the "anti-Bush" allows "Obama to reemphasize that he has not been in office long enough to be held responsible for the dizzying array of crises that the nation now faces."

By Dan Froomkin  |  February 24, 2009; 1:40 PM ET
Categories:  Financial Crisis  
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The Republican "insurgent" tactics will fail...hopefully the guy who won in November will bring an end to the 8 years of terrorist reign that this once vibrant nation was subjected to.

Posted by: constwkr | February 24, 2009 2:18 PM | Report abuse

I think there's a typo in the write up. 79% of Americans think Republicans should make working with Obama in a bipartisan way a higher priority over sticking to their policies. And 56% say it's more important for Obama to stick to his policies than work in a bipartisan way.

Posted by: Dr_Bob | February 24, 2009 3:30 PM | Report abuse

The majority of them won't work with him...they're trying to outsmart the country...their party created this mess, and if they can obstruct the needed fixes and cry and whine and say they're being left out of the process...then maybe the Democrats will get the ultimate blame and they come out on top. That's Palin, Sanford and Jindal logic hard at work here. I don't think the public will buy it...but Rush is selling it hard.

Posted by: constwkr | February 24, 2009 3:42 PM | Report abuse

Rush Limbaugh is a drug addled Moron.

Posted by: mjwies11 | February 24, 2009 4:09 PM | Report abuse

you're right on about Rush...that's actually a much nicer description than he deserves.

Posted by: constwkr | February 24, 2009 4:14 PM | Report abuse

The lilly white, lock step, obstructionist, southern based, Rush Limbaugh directed Republican Party, or whatever is left of it, is rapidly circling the drain.

All President Obama has to do now is start confiscating the assets of all of the ponzi schemers and crooked bankers, prosecute the war criminals and torturers, ship them all to Guantanamo for life, and he could be the greatest President ever.

PS, Dan, your new format stinks.

Posted by: daniel3715 | February 24, 2009 4:18 PM | Report abuse

Froomkin do you ever get off your knees and take a breath?

Posted by: pwaa | February 24, 2009 4:27 PM | Report abuse

"Americans overwhelmingly support new spending to help individuals — including creating jobs and rescuing struggling homeowners — but oppose bailouts for automakers and banks."

So, naturally, our elected leaders have bailed out the banks and automakers and have ignored the foreclosure crisis until recently. The two party system continues to fail us.

P.S. I wonder what level of childhood neglect trolls like pwaa and Pugi must have suffered to cause them to hang around where they aren't wanted to complain about people they don't agree with. It's the internet version of the mentally ill homeless man chasing people down the sidewalk.

Posted by: BigTunaTim | February 24, 2009 4:45 PM | Report abuse

"P.S. I wonder what level of childhood neglect trolls like pwaa and Pugi must have suffered to cause them to hang around where they aren't wanted to complain about people they don't agree with"

LOL, what a liberal. Last time I checked the constitution let everyone speak. Under the new liberal fuhrer, all must bow to obama or in froomkin's case kneel 24/7.....

Posted by: pwaa | February 24, 2009 4:56 PM | Report abuse

As a party that now represents only the former Confederate States of America and the Mormon States of the West, the Republicons, I believe, are actually laying the groundwork for the destruction of the USA as a functional nation.

Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Dallas, has called for a Taliban-like "insurgency" against the government. Party spokesman Rush Limbaugh has said he wants Obama to fail, which, in the present circumstances, would mean the nation fails.

As a minority party, the Republicons cannot succeed in any meaningful way unless they split the nation asunder, a dream that southerners have long cherished since the days of the Civil War.

On the 200th anniversary of Lincoln's birth, the cells of resistance to the federal government have been activated in a way we've never seen since George W. Bush's grandfather tried to overthrow the government of FDR and establish a fascist dictatorship in the "Businessmen's Plot" in the 1930s.

Posted by: motorfriend | February 24, 2009 4:58 PM | Report abuse

The funny thing that democrats don't get is that support for obama is a mile wide and an inch deep. For frothing at the mouth liberals, this point is lost. Obama will eventually be all alone, abandoned by the insatiable left and attacked by republicans at every turn, especially if his policies lead to an attack on american soil.

Posted by: pwaa | February 24, 2009 5:07 PM | Report abuse

Why worry any longer about Osama...we have our own home grown domestic terrorists...Republicans....they picked up where Osama left off on 9/12 and have brought the country to the brink of collapse...

Posted by: constwkr | February 24, 2009 5:20 PM | Report abuse

I ease my mind amid the GOP and RW media ranting by focusing on the fact that in 4 of the last 5 presidential elections the Democrats have won the popular vote.

The presidency of George W. Bush was an anomaly, an anachronism, saved only by the forces generated by the events of 9-11-01. It's darned near a generation since this nation rejected Reaganism.

The bluster, divisiveness, race-baiting, hypocrisy, and blatant dishonesty of the GOP and its highly paid, mindless, script reading, blathering, bloviating media pundits will not reverse the tide.

Posted by: bfieldk | February 24, 2009 5:31 PM | Report abuse

"its highly paid, mindless, script reading, blathering, bloviating media pundits"

LOL, It's not nice to pick on the cheerleading mainstream media for utterly failing to vet Obama out of sheer terror that they might be called racist. Any perusal of this liberal rag on any day is proof of that.....

Posted by: pwaa | February 24, 2009 5:36 PM | Report abuse

The Republicans are attempting to mobilize the old Reagan coalition of the rich and the stupid. Reagan managed to absolve American corporations accountable to the national interest and shift the power to global capitalists. And the moderate income Americans who have suffered at the hands of the global capitalists are encouraged in the same old fashion dictated by Reagan to blame their problems on those who are even less well off.

Posted by: oldbob | February 24, 2009 5:52 PM | Report abuse

moterfriend, I thank you for speaking a bottom line truth that all too many find preposterous to really take seriously.
The tactics that the Southern, and two Western states (Idaho and Alaska) reek of "nullifcation". Nullification is the term applied to the South for some 30-40 years before the Civil War broke out.
It means that these states refuse to recognize the province of the Federal government. It means they selectively refuse to abide by federal laws and exempt themselves from those policies they don't want or like.
In other words, they "nullify" the Federal government. Just as an aside, the state of Idaho was founded by refugess from the Civil War, and the Mormons. Until the Democrats passed the Civil Rights bill, they were strict Democrats just like the segregationist South was. When the Civil Rights bills passed, they immediately switched to Repubican because the Republicans now carried their own sacred banner of discrimination and segregation.
Once again, great post.

Posted by: cms1 | February 24, 2009 6:15 PM | Report abuse

Well the citizens of the states where the governors are refusing the stimulus money need to rise up...beat down the door to the Gov's mansion...resignation letter in hand....force them to sign it...kick their sorry butts to the curb and then whip them all the way back to where they came from....I applaud those brave Republican governors who still realize that they were elected to do the people's work...not further the republican party agenda....I commend Charlie Christ...(My Governor) who publicly stated that he was elected to take care of the citizens of Florida...what job does Jindal and Sanford and Palin think they were elected to do? Certainly not care for and help the people of their state....this gang of insurgents are a sorry lot...and they need to pay dearly for their crap.

Posted by: constwkr | February 24, 2009 7:19 PM | Report abuse

Could somebody please change PWAA's diaper?

He's fouling up the room, as usual.

Posted by: ArrigoBeyle | February 24, 2009 7:23 PM | Report abuse

It's possible to be optimistic about Obama yet pessimistic about the outlook.

The Government is in uncharted territory, and even the best brains with the best intentions might not crack the problem. Even if they make all the right decisions, it still might not be enough to fix Bush's mess in four years.

There are an awful lot of problems out there, and of course, the Republicans are among them, still nobbling Congress and poisoning the national discourse.

I expect a lot of petty, phony outrage, a lot of personal attacks. They are frustrated, bitter people with not much left to lose.

Posted by: kenonwenu | February 24, 2009 7:49 PM | Report abuse

The one thing Newt Gingritch most disliked about Bill Clinton was that by the time Gingritch and his counselors could figure out a strategy to deal with some Clinton policy, ill had gone two or three steps farther than the Newt had looked and newt ended up looking foolish or worse. He eventually gave up trying and declared that the republicans would just shut down Congress until Newt got his way. Then Newt shut down the Government, and looked even worse.

Now Barack is doing an excellent reprise of the Bill and Newt competition. The republicans are busy rallying around their cry of "Pork, Pork, Won't Work Deficit...!!" and Barack is already beginning to deal with said deficit, while the stimulus that the Republicans say won't work gets a (dubious, but hoped for) vote of confidence from Bernanke.

When 2010 dawns with the economy improving and the budget deficit going down, and the republicans in total opposition to everything Democratic or Obama, something will have to give.

Maybe Snowe, Collins, and Specter should look up Ross Perot and ask to join his party. That way, when the American reform Party organizes the minority caucus in the next Congress, they will hold the primary leadership positions by reason of seniority.

The only real question right now is why isn't there lots more organizational activity going on in Perot's Party? Where is Jesse Ventura now that they need him?

Posted by: ceflynline | February 24, 2009 8:09 PM | Report abuse

Could somebody please change PWAA's diaper?

He's fouling up the room, as usual.

Posted by: ArrigoBeyle | February 24, 2009 7:23 PM

Amen to that. PWAA sounds like a slightly more verbose bobmoses.

Even Fox News hates Jindal and Palin now. That vote of no confidence by the "Fair & Balanced" ought to shut these narcissistic neanderthals up right there.

Posted by: crix | February 25, 2009 1:48 PM | Report abuse

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