obama Honeymoon over

WASHINGTON - A year on from a historic election, the spirit of popular goodwill that yielded America's first black president has retreated to tepid support for Barack Obama as he presses his change agenda.

Since the November 4 poll, Obama's visage has been everywhere, conspicuously on the streets of the nation's capital where millions of foreign and domestic tourists have visited over the past year, many of them snatching up poignant souvenirs.

A quick look around downtown Washington confirms that the Obama trinkets are still for sale, but street hawker have found little point in displaying the T-shirts, posters, and Yes We Can buttons bearing the new Obama's image.

"They stay in the truck," grumbled a vendor who identified himself as Dick. "They don't sell anymore."

Obama's honeymoon with the American people lasted less than six months. In the aftermath of his inauguration in January, his approval rating soared to 70percent.

Early on he tested Americans' faith by diving headlong into controversial programmes to rescue the economy, including bailing out sinking US auto manufacturers and unleashing a R6,204,51billion stimulus plan.

At the end of his first 100 days in office in April, Obama still enjoyed more positive reviews than his predecessors.

But the fall was soon to come as questions started simmering about his ability to pull the US economy out of a nosedive.

In July his popularity dipped even below that of predecessor George Bush in the same period of his presidency.

Since mid-October, it has hovered just above 50percent, a "significant drop" from his earlier numbers, according to Frank Newport, editor-in-chief of the Gallup Poll. - Sapa-AFP