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In assessing President Obama’s first 100 days in office, Fred Barnes uses this clever analogy:

Strong job approval, higher personal ratings”–that’s pollster Andrew Kohut’s assessment of President Obama at roughly the 100-day point. “A bravura performance,” wrote David Broder of the Washingon Post. The president’s flacks take the Muhammad Ali approach: Obama is The Greatest. What comes to my mind, however, is the guy who falls off a skyscraper and halfway down declares, “So far, so good.”

Here’s where Fred Barnes and I agree most:

Maybe there’s a soft landing ahead for Obama or even a takeoff as his policies succeed. But my expectations are low. One reason is the Obama contradiction. Two of his stated goals (economic recovery, energy independence) are undermined by his actual policies. Another reason is history. There’s no evidence to suggest Obama’s policies of courting enemies and airing the country’s supposed misdeeds will lessen threats to national security or strengthen America’s role in the world.

Obama, for the moment, is riding a wave of announcements, claims, hopes, and possibilities. This is what new presidents thrive on. It’s what makes them popular, especially because there’s no accountability. But a year from now, perhaps sooner, the joy ride will be over. Results will matter. Obama’s policies will either be working or not. And if not, even a friendly media won’t be able to sugarcoat the bad news or alleviate the political consequences.

I said before his inauguration that, for the first time in his life, President Obama would be judged by what happens, not on his speaking ability. The results that’ll matter most to people will be whether their 401(k)s get healthy again, whether energy costs stabilize and whether the economy continues shrinking or if it starts growing lethargically.

Eventually, people will want proof that the path they’re on is a path to prosperity. If that proof doesn’t appear, their goodwill will disappear. It’s nothing more complicated than that.

If President Obama’s economy doesn’t start showing signs of improvement, people will start questioning his policies.

President Obama’s major policy initiatives aren’t likely to spur growth. His health care plan, which will be written by Speaker Pelosi and Ted Kennedy, will hurt the economy while sucking hundreds of billions of dollars out of the economy.

President Obama admitted during the campaign that his Cap and Trade plans will “necessarily cause energy prices to skyrocket.” There’s no chance that people in the Midwest will like skyrocketing energy prices.

It’s true the American economy is resilient. Its natural tendency is to grow, leaving recessions behind. What arouses this appetite for growth are incentives to invest that, in time, produce a booming economy and new jobs. But rather than incentives, Obama favors impediments: tax hikes for the investor class, more regulation, higher energy prices. He’s created the most antibusiness climate in Washington since the New Deal. The best hope for a robust recovery is the trillions in liquidity that Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke has injected into the economy. That will surely help, but who knows how much, when, or at what cost in inflation.

While it’s true that people are still optimistic, that optimism, like President Obama’s promises, has an expiration date. People won’t continue believing in President Obama’s policies when they see high energy prices cutting into their paychecks, when they see Speaker Pelosi’s health care plan as the government taking over one-seventh of the United States’ economy.

How long will they tolerate Obamanomics when everyone sees a tax increase instead of them seeing “95% of Americans seeing a tax cut”? How long will optimism last? I suspect that the midterm elections will tell us alot about that.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

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