Boston Properties' Mort Zuckerman Obliterates Barack Obama

Tyler Durden's picture

Media and real estate tycoon Mort Zuckerman, who recently admitted he helped write Obama's speeches in the past, has come out blazing with easily the most damning missive of the president and his legacy to date. Mort joins such other distinguished and notable CEOs as Steve Wynn to openly blast the administration and its policies. In the meantime, the president has surely not made many new friends in the executive offices of the E&P space. Before all is said and done, look for letters such as the one attached to become a daily occurrence.

Obama Is Barely Treading Water (first posted in US News)

By Mort Zuckerman

The hope that fired up the election of Barack Obama has flickered
out, leaving a national mood of despair and disappointment. Americans
are dispirited over how wrong things are and uncertain they can be made
right again. Hope may have been a quick breakfast, but it has proved a
poor supper. A year and a half ago Obama was walking on water. Today he
is barely treading water. Then, his soaring rhetoric enraptured the
nation. Today, his speeches cannot lift him past a 45 percent approval
rating.

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There is a widespread feeling that the government doesn't work, that
it is incapable of solving America's problems. Americans are fed up with
Washington, fed up with Wall Street, fed up with the necessary but
ill-conceived stimulus program, fed up with the misdirected healthcare
program, and with pretty much everything else. They are outraged and
feel that the system is not a level playing field, but is tilted against
them. The millions of unemployed feel abandoned by the president, by
the Democratic Congress, and by the Republicans.

The American people wanted change, and who could blame them? But now
there is no change they can believe in. Sixty-two percent believe we are
headed in the wrong direction­—a record during this administration. All
the polls indicate that anti-Washington, anti-incumbent sentiment is
greater than it has been in many years. For the first time, Obama's
disapproval rating has topped his approval rating. In a recent CBS News
poll, there is a meager 15 percent approval rating for Congress. In all
polls, voters who call themselves independents have swung against the
administration and against incumbents.

Even some in Obama's base have turned, with 17 percent of Democrats
disapproving of his job performance. Even more telling is the excitement
gap. Only 44 percent of those who voted for him express high interest
in this year's elections. That's a 38-point drop from 2008. By contrast,
71 percent of those who voted Republican last time express high
interest in the midterm elections, above the level at this stage in
2008. And these are the people who vote.

Republicans are benefiting not because they have a credible or
popular program—they don't—but because they are not Democrats. In a
recent Wall Street Journal/NBC poll, nearly two thirds of those who
favor Republican control of Congress say they are motivated primarily by
opposition to Obama and Democratic policy. Disapproval of Congress is
so widespread, a recent Gallup poll suggests, that by a margin of almost
two to one, Americans would rather vote for a candidate with no
experience than for an incumbent. Throw the bums out is the mood. How
could this have happened so quickly?

The fundamental problem is starkly simple: jobs and the deepening
fear among the public that the American dream is vanishing before their
eyes. The economy's erratic improvement has helped Wall Street but has
brought little support to Main Street. Some 6.8 million people have been
unemployed in the last year for six months or longer. Their valuable
skills are at risk, affecting their economic productivity for years to
come. Add to this despairing army the large number of those only
partially employed and those who have given up their search for work,
and we have cumulative totals in the tens of millions.

Many people who joined the middle class, especially those who joined
in the last few years, have now fallen back. It's not over yet. Millions
cannot make minimum payments on their credit cards, or are in default
or foreclosure on their mortgages, or are on food stamps. Well over
100,000 people file for bankruptcy every month. Some 3 million
homeowners are estimated to face foreclosure this year, on top of 2.8
million last year. Millions of homes are located next to or near a
foreclosed home, and it is the latter that may determine the price of
all the homes on the street. There have been dramatically sharp declines
in home equity, representing cumulative losses in the trillions of
dollars in what has long been the largest asset on the average American
family's balance sheet. Most of those who lost their homes are
hard-working, middle-class Americans who had lost their jobs. Now many
have to use credit cards to pay for essentials and make ends meet, and
they are running out of credit. Another $5 trillion has been lost from
pensions and savings.

But it is jobs that have long represented the stairway to upward
mobility in America. For a long time, it was feared they were vulnerable
to offshore competition (and indeed still are), but now the erosion is
from economic decline at home. What happens as those domestic
opportunities recede? Middle-class families fear they have become
downwardly mobile and have not hit the bottom yet. The financial
security that was once based on home equity and a pension has been swept
away.

In a survey just released, the Pew Research Center explored the
recession's impact on households and how they are changing their
spending and saving behavior. Nearly half the adults polled intend to
boost their savings, cut their discretionary budgets, and cut their debt
loads. The report concludes that the present enforced frugality will
outlast the recession and its overhang. Fully 60 percent of those ages
50 to 61 say they may delay retirement. What does that mean for the
young would-be employees entering the labor force over the next few
years?

The administration's stimulus program, because of the way Congress
put it together, has created far fewer jobs than anyone expected given
the huge price tag of almost $800 billion. It was supposed to constrain
unemployment at 8 percent, but the recession took the rate way above
that and in the process humbled the Obama presidency. Some 25 million
jobless or underemployed people now wish to work full time, but few
companies are ready to hire. No speech is going to change that.

Little wonder there has been a gradual public disillusionment. Little
wonder people have come alive to the issue of excess spending with
entitlements out of control as far as the eye can see. The hope was that
Obama would focus on the economy and jobs. That was the number one
issue for the public—not healthcare. Yet the president spent almost a
year on a healthcare bill. Eighty-five percent in one poll thought the
great healthcare crisis was about cost. It was and is, but the
president's bill was about extending coverage. It did nothing about the
first concern and focused mostly on the second. Even worse, to win its
approval he accepted the kind of scratch-my-back deal-making that
suggests corruption in the political process. And as a result, Obama's
promise to change "politics as usual" disappeared.

The president failed to communicate the value of what he wants to
communicate. To a significant number of Americans, what came across was a
new president trying to do too much in a hurry and, at the same time,
radically change the equation of American life in favor of too much
government. This feeling is intensified by Obama's emotional distance
from the public. He conveys a coolness and detachment that limits the
number of people who feel connected to him.

Americans today strongly support a pro-growth economic agenda that
includes fiscal discipline, limited government, and deficit reduction.
They fear the country is coming apart, while the novelty of Obama has
worn off, along with the power of his position as the non-Bush. His
decline in popularity has emboldened the opposition to try to block him
at every turn.

Historically, presidents with approval ratings below 50 percent—Obama
is at 45—lose an average of 41 House seats in midterm elections. This
year, that would return the House of Representatives to Republican
control. The Democrats will suffer disproportionately from a climate in
which so many Americans are either dissatisfied or angry with the
government, for Democrats are in the large majority in both houses and
have to defend many more districts than Republicans. In any election
year, voters' feelings typically settle in by June. But now they are
being further hardened by the loose regulation that preceded the
poisonous oil spill—and the tardy government response.

The promise of economic health that might salvage industries and
jobs, and provide a safety net, has proved illusory. The support for
cutting spending and cutting the deficit reflects in part the fact that
the American public feels the Obama-Congress spending program has not
worked. As for the healthcare reform bill, the most recent Rasmussen
survey indicates that 52 percent of the electorate supports repeal of
the measure—42 percent of them strongly.

It is clear that the magical moment of Obama's campaign conveyed a
spell that is now broken in the context of the growing public
disillusionment. Obama's rise has been spectacular, but so too has been
his fall.