Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Saturday, January 23, 2010

Obama's Comeback

Presidents can't afford the luxury of getting depressed, so here we have Mr. Audacity of Hope right after the Scott Brown newsshock being handed a football helmet in a sports equipment factory and telling crowds that he can handle the pummeling.

“So long as I have some breath in me," he vows in an upbeat Ohio talk using "fight" as a mantra, "so long as I have the privilege of serving as your president, I will not stop fighting for you. I will take my lumps. But I won’t stop fighting."

In a run of media misfortunes from the "systemic failure" to detect a would-be airline bomber to a surge of voter anger in the contest for Ted Kennedy's seat, the media narrative and opinion polls have been running downhill for Barack Obama but, with the State of the Union coming next week, the stage is set to mount a comeback for a president whose resilience is a strong point.

Unlike LBJ after the country turned against the Vietnam War, Nixon during Watergate and Jimmy Carter in his "national malaise" funk, Obama has shown he is unlikely to let a run of setbacks get him down, and he seems to have enough political momentum to buoy him.

In a new Gallup Poll showing the majority of Americans want to slow down health care reform, he nonetheless retains considerable personal confidence. "Given Obama's job approval rating of roughly 50 per cent," Gallup says, "clearly some Americans who express disappointment with the president's lack of progress still generally approve of the job he is doing."

With this residue of good will after a rocky first year, the President's comeback will require substance as well as style, action beyond rhetoric, and there are encouraging signs that he is making the needed changes.

In the Obama attacks on Wall Street this week, there is a clear indication that he has reached the end of the line with Geithner-Summers appeasement and is going in the direction that Paul Volcker recommended a year ago, tougher regulation and more pressure for reform of the financial industry.

In his weekly address today, he takes on the Supreme Court decision this week to allow corporations to spend more on political advertising, calling it "devastating to the public interest" and vowing to push new legislation to counter it: "The last thing we need to do is hand more influence to the lobbyists in Washington, or more power to the special interests to tip the outcome of elections."

As he showed during campaign onslaught over the Jeremiah Wright rants, Barack Obama has a gift for taking temporary setbacks, separating himself from them, putting them into a larger context and moving on.

This time, he will have to scale an even higher mountain of carping, marked by such excrescences as Conservative elder statesman Pat Buchanan's argument that he has "lost White America." As Buchanan and others on the Hard Right lose their marbles over the prospect of a Democratic downfall, Barack Obama will have to show Americans how much fight there really is in a cool and conciliatory president.


Fuzzy Slippers said...

I have to say, Mr. Stein, that your optimism and (yes, I'll say it) hope for this president are admirable.

The trouble with his new "Look, I'm a populist who wants to hang out in diners and go to the barber shop" approach is that it's patently false, a facade adopted by a desperate man. He's missed the mood of the people . . . yet again. Attacking Wall Street would have been a supreme success . . . back in the spring, early summer of 2009. A (political) lifetime ago.

Since then, however, a lot has happened. And now the people aren't mad at Wall Street, they are mad at him, or as you note, more precisely, his (radical left) agenda. While he remains personally popular with some half of the nation, he's wildly unpopular with a growing number of people on both the right and the far left. He cannot bridge that chasm by waxing idiotically about diners and barber shops.

Another failure to understand the mood of the people is the lashing out at the Supreme Court decision on campaign finance. Again, this is not upsetting to "the people" (those people who actually DO sit in diners and go the barber shop). Most of them see it as a triumph for the Constitution (that pesky little document this president finds sorely lacking).

Until this president and his administration get someone in there to advise them who has a clue about what is going in America, he's going to keep flailing around, making endless speeches, and failing at everything he does. It's not a happy thing, but he and his advisers are so sure they know what is best that they don't listen to the people. That's what got them in November in VA and NJ, and that's what got them on January 19th here in MA. And that's what going to keep getting them.

My advice to BO: as you are not a populist, don't pretend to be--people have zero respect for phonies. Get someone in there who actually does understand how the country is feeling, what the people want, and make a mad dash for center.

He won't do it, so we'll see a lot more stuttering and stumbling and wrong steps by this administration and a lot more anger from the people. He'll be a lame duck come November because and only because he's not listening to the people. The people, therefore, will vote for people who will neuter him, force him to listen to (if not hear or comprehend) what they are saying.

Serious Implications said...

More Republican hype and adrenalin. The "hot flash" of the month. Last month it was the Crotch Bomber. Beta blockers might help.

Scott Brown won an open seat in a state that often elects Republican governors and the corporate media calls it "stunning." Sherrod Brown beat a 2-term incumbant Ohio Senator, Mike Dewine, in 2006 and it was barely mentioned.

Why doesn't all this "anger from the people" translate into support for Republican presidential hopefuls? Obama's in good shape, unless the Reptilian Brain Party can find somebody named "Someone Else."

From a recent FoxNews poll:
Obama 47, Romney 35
Obama 55, Palin 31
Obama 53, Gingrich 29

Fuzzy Slippers said...

LOL, Serious Implications,I have to admit that there is something to that presidential candidate named "Someone Else" for conservatives. We don't really have a good choice at the moment, that's very true and a cause for some concern. But not much. Reagan didn't announce he was running for president until November 13, 1979 (you may recall he won that office by a landslide in November of 1980).

BO began his campaign in what? 2006? But that's not been the norm in American politics, so I really wouldn't put much stock in there not being a presidential candidate on the right for November 2012. It's January 2010. Furthermore, I suspect that BO will not be a shoo-in for the dems, either. The presidential primary season will be very interesting. You know, when it starts. In 19 or 20 months.

Serious Implications said...

Reagan's presidential campaign began with the 1968 race.

Fuzzy Slippers said...

Your point being what, SI?