The one-hour ABC News special "Primetime: Questions for the President: Prescription for America" (4.7 million viewers, 1.1 preliminary adults 18-49 rating) had the fewest viewers in the 10 p.m. hour (against NBC's "The Philanthropist" debut and a repeat of "CSI: NY" on CBS). The special tied some 8 p.m. comedy repeats as the lowest-rated program on a major broadcast network.
Given we're in the summer time re run season, it's all the more stunning just how poorly the president's health care townhall debate did. Maybe, the pollsters can poll the popularity of The Philanthropist. If the president polls at 60%, I can only imagine how well the Philanthropist would poll.
Apparently, the president is overwhelmingly popular, just not so popular that anyone could stand watching him talk about health care for an hour. Tomorrow, the House has scheduled a vote on cap and trade. Reports say that if it passes it will be by a razor thin margin. Health care is stalled. His financial reform overhaul is already met with skepticism, and the Senate voted overwhelmingly not to fund Let's think about that for a second. The president is supposed to be overwhelmingly popular. He has a massive majority in both chambers. Yet, he can't seem to get any of his agenda passed.
Overseas, the president is even more popular. Yet, that doesn't seem to have had any effect on policy. He got nothing more than token support in Afghanistan. He had to go to the previously unknown island of Palau to be able to rid himself of the Uighers housed at GITMO. Germany and France are concerned by our out of control deficits. Meanwhile, Russia and China have all but stopped buying our bonds.
At some point, popularity has to turn into real political capital. Either that or popularity goes away. Tomorrow's vote on cap and trade will be a crucial step. If the president loses that vote, it won't be long before he loses his popularity as well.