You may remember that Bush had a near 90% rating around this same time in 2001, bolstered simply because of his rhetoric in response to the attacks on Sept. 11th. But his actual job performance as President was completely dismal.
A new Senate Foreign Relations Committee report says that Osama bin Laden was within the grasp of U.S troops in December 2001, but bin Laden was allowed to escape into the Afghan mountains. The Daily News reports, "The report asserts that the failure to get the terrorist leader when he was at his most vulnerable in December 2001 - three months after the 9/11 attacks - led to today's reinvigorated insurgency in Afghanistan."
And while the reality of this closely mimics that conservative talking-point that Bin Laden was "on a silver platter" during the Clinton administration and was missed, it does tend to shed new light on the relevance of the polling data then and now. Bush missed a perfect opportunity to catch the most wanted man on the planet versus Obama not being able to fix Bush's economic mistakes fast enough.
That aside, some conservatives - and repeated en masse by many on Fox"News" - are touting that Obama's rating is the lowest of virtually any president since Gallup began gathering data at the end of Roosevelts term in office. The only one that was close to Obama was non other than the conservative Jesus, Ronald Reagan at 49%. But with margin of error taken into account, as it is with any poll on any subject, the two are theoretically tied.
This is another interesting situation that can provide a little more context to Obama's numbers and the reality behind them. While Reagan enjoyed two terms as President - trickling down the economy into near oblivion, supporting both sides of the Iran/Iraq war, and selling arms to terrorist organizations, and doing virtually nothing to stop AIDS in it's infancy - his legacy is nothing more than giving a speech in Germany which conservatives have spun into him single-handedly ending the Cold War. Obama is just now nearing the end of his first year and the economy is already on the mend, diplomatic relations are being cooled, and healthcare reform ( in some shape ) is likely to be complete before Spring.
For the most part, polls are an interesting snap-shot of a given place and time but do nothing to predict how a person with speak, act, or especially vote. The data may seen bleak to some, and there are those taking full advantage of this, but the reality behind the numbers is what matters.