Halfway through the first year of his historic administration, President Obama will give himself an early report card this weekend, assembling his Cabinet officials to review their performance and set new goals for the months ahead.
All 22 Cabinet-rank officials will meet to discuss “priorities for the administration’s agenda moving forward,” a White House official said. Obama and Vice President Joe Biden will kick off the two-day assessment with a dinner for the Cabinet on Friday evening at Blair House, the building across the street from the White House that hosts many foreign dignitaries when they visit Washington. The closed-door meetings will be an opportunity to collaborate in a manner similar to every administration since President Eisenhower’s, White House spokeswoman Kate Bedingfield said. The review comes at a pivotal moment in Obama’s young presidency. Among other things, Obama is juggling ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, trying to reverse a steep economic downturn and pushing Congress for legislation enacting universal health care, a goal that has eluded every Democratic president since President Truman.
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The immense challenges may be starting to take a political toll. Five national polls released Wednesday suggest that Obama’s approval rating has slipped in recent weeks. The president’s approval rating stands at 53 percent in new surveys from NBC/Wall Street Journal, NPR and Gallup’s daily tracking poll. It’s 56 percent in a Time magazine survey, and 58 percent in a CBS/New York Times poll. “Every poll that has been publicly released in July has shown Obama’s approval rating below 60 percent,” said CNN polling director Keating Holland. The president’s approval rating averaged 62 percent in early June and 61 percent in late June.