By STEVE BREWER
Scripps Howard News Service
October 25, 2005
Just 25 percent of the population thinks Dad is doing an "excellent" or "good" job, poll results show. Fifty percent - largely teenaged sons - find his performance to be lacking. The canine portion of the household refused to comment.
Dad fared best with the lone female respondent, although her approval was pegged not so much to his overall job performance but to the more ephemeral quality of "hunkiness," the survey found.
Pollsters blamed the low numbers on a series of missteps and natural disasters that have battered Dad's administration.
For example, few respondents approve of Dad's recent decision to set school-night curfews. The majority said they considered that move a mistake, and Dad's overall handling of filial recreation to be a low point in his administration.
Although Dad can't be held responsible for a recent rainstorm that devastated party plans, 50 percent blame him for the slowness of the emergency response that followed. Household members expressed little confidence that social lives could recover from the storm without great infusions of cash from Dad.
On the economic front, approval ratings hit record lows. Circumstances have forced Dad into new levels of deficit spending with little hope of recovery. Seventy-five percent of respondents found Dad's income level too low, and a similar number expressed dismay at how spending has soared.
Dad's administration has blamed the spending on emergency measures - car repairs, dog surgery - not to mention the overall hit the household economy has taken from skyrocketing gasoline prices.
But critics noted that travel and entertainment expenses are on the rise as well and put the blame firmly on Dad.
Even the canine component, which benefited from the recent expenditure of hundreds of dollars for vet bills, showed little gratitude. That respondent's attitude seemed typical of detractors: Dad's problems are of no concern as long as the dog's own food bowl is full. This is the result of the welfare state that has evolved within the household.
Respondents found that Dad's spending on foodstuffs showed a definite bias against sweets, beef jerky and Mountain Dew, with too much of the family budget going toward items - such as beer - deemed not useful by younger respondents.
A majority said Dad leaves vital domestic housekeeping undone while "vacationing" in front of televised sporting events.
Just how far Dad's popularity has fallen was best illustrated in the parts of the survey that asked about his personal qualities. Less than 50 percent of respondents called him a strong and decisive leader, and a smaller percentage actually laughed out loud at the question.
Only 25 percent said Dad cares about people like themselves, and a like number found him "trustworthy."
The canine respondent indicated Dad remains the "alpha male," although others disagreed.
An administration spokesman said Dad expects to see a turnaround in his poll numbers soon. First, there's the issue of transportation to school events, which always gives him a seasonal "bump" in popularity.
Secondly, Dad plans several major out-of-town trips, and he usually benefits from the statistical phenomenon known as "absence makes the heart grow fonder."
If all else fails, Christmas is just around the corner.
"As a proud American, I plan to tackle the major projects affecting the well-being of this household," an apparently undaunted Dad said in a prepared statement. "Just as soon as football season is over."
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