Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Monday, December 12, 2011

Obama Enigma

Watching the President on 60 Minutes last night raises wonder at why more Americans aren’t rallying around this highly intelligent, energetic, fair-minded man.

The answer may be in the question itself. Contrasting Barack Obama’s demeanor with the rage and unearned self-regard of his would-be successors, Congressional critics and Murdoch media attack dogs—-and his low-key response to that rabid criticism--may tell us as much about low approval ratings as his own performance.

Informed of a new poll showing that “People like you. They respect you. They think that you're working hard. And they realize that you faced an enormous amount of trouble and problems, many of them inherited. And you're approval rating is four times higher than the Congress,” the President responds wryly, “That's a low bar.”

Then the bad news: “But they're not happy with the way you're doing your job. You've got 75 percent of the people in the country think it's headed in the wrong direction. Seventy-five percent. And 54 percent don't think that you deserve to be re-elected.”

Most politicians would respond defensively, but this President coolly observes, “We've gone through an incredibly difficult time in this country. And I would be surprised if the American people felt satisfied right now. They shouldn't feel satisfied. We've got a lot more work to do in order to get this country and the economy moving in a way that benefits everybody, as opposed to just a few.”

Even as he goes on the attack against Congressional stonewalling, Barack Obama is trapped not only by his even temperament but the reality that a 2012 opponent is still unchosen and that GOP debates demonizing him will go on for months to come.

Asked about them, the President once again wryly observes that Gingrich is “somebody that has been around a long time and is good on TV, is good in debates” and Romney has “shown himself to be somebody who is good at politics as well. He’s had a lot of practice at it.”

Noting that “they will be going at it a while,” Barack Obama is in the delicate position of calibrating how much and how long to allow himself to be tarred without directly responding or stepping up the counterattacks of his surrogates.

Will his wry be enough to contain all that GOP baloney?

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