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Comment: The American right roars back

By Jonathan Mann, CNN
Former Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin addresses the first national meet for the Tea Party movement.
Former Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin addresses the first national meet for the Tea Party movement.
  • Democrats have dropped in some polls by up to 20 points compared to last year
  • Obama: American people frustrated with lack of progress on some key issues
  • Issues include war overseas, healthcare overhaul, economy still sluggish
  • Republicans have been able to benefit from tough year for Obama

(CNN) -- One year after Barack Obama led his Democrats to victory and inspired so many people around the world, millions of Americans have grown disillusioned. Republicans and their allies are reaping the benefit.

"We want to look forward and from here my friends the future looks good," said former governor Sarah Palin. "It looks really good."

Last weekend, America saw the first national convention of a boisterous grassroots movement called the Tea Party, named for the 18th-century protest against tea taxes that set off the American Revolution.

Next weekend it's the annual convention of the Conservative Political Action Conference. If the Tea Party people are the roots of the American Right, CPAC's activists and organizers are its upper branches.

Both groups see an opportunity. A new ABC News/Washington Post poll finds 43- percent of Americans still put more trust in the Democrats to solve their problems, compared to just 37 percent who are inclined to trust the Republicans. But that six-point advantage for the Democrats has dropped from 26 points a year ago.

The reason? Whether you vote left or right, the Obama administration has had mixed results. It's still at war in Iraq and Afghanistan, its healthcare overhaul is stalled in Congress and most important, the economy is still not generating nearly enough jobs.

Through the last painful year for the American people, the Republicans have also had the one great advantage of an opposition party: they haven't had to actually govern.

So the president is paying his opponents the ultimate compliment or calling their bluff: he's begun meeting with them, offering to incorporate their ideas into administration policies.

"The American people are frustrated with the lack of progress on some key issues," Obama said this week. "Although the parties aren't going to agree on every single item there should be some areas where we can agree and we can get some things done."

If Washington politicians can replace conflict with cooperation, it would probably help the American people and the Obama administration too. But Republicans may want to give it a second thought because right now, they're doing just fine.