The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

Who Else Might Abandon Obama by 2012?


At some point, some aspiring Republican president — perhaps Rick Perry or Mitt Romney — has to make pitches to as many of Obama’s disappointed high-profile supporters as possible. A big rollout of disappointed Obama supporters switching sides could start a cascade effect, and knowing the thin-skinned, defensive, always-demonize-the-opponent instincts of the Obama team, might get them trashing their former supporters. Start with Mort Zuckerman, publisher of U.S. News and World Report:

Mr. Obama seems unable to get a firm grip on the toughest issue facing his presidency and the country—the economy. He now asserts he is going to “pivot” to jobs. Now we pivot to jobs? When there are already 25 million Americans who are either unemployed or cannot find full-time work? Does this president not appreciate what is going on?

It is no surprise that many have begun to doubt the president’s leadership qualities. J. P. Morgan calls it the “competency crisis.” The president is not seen fighting for his own concrete goals, nor finding the right allies, especially leaders of business big or small. Instead, his latent hostility to the business community has provoked a mutual response of disrespect. This is lamentable given the unique role that small business especially plays in creating jobs . . .

The president appears to consider himself immune from error and asserts the fault always lies elsewhere—be it in the opposition in Congress or the Japanese tsunami or in the failure of his audience to fully understand the wisdom and benefits of his proposals. But in politics, the failure of communication is invariably the fault of the communicator.

Many voters who supported him are no longer elated by the historic novelty of his candidacy and presidency. They hoped for a president who would be effective. Remember “Yes We Can”? Now many of his sharpest critics are his former supporters. Witness Bill Broyles, a one-time admirer who recently wrote in Newsweek that “Americans aren’t inspired by well-meaning weakness.” The president who first inspired with great speeches on red and blue America now seems to lack the ability to communicate any sense of resolve for a program, or any realization of the urgency of what might befall us. The teleprompter he almost always uses symbolizes and compounds his emotional distance from his audience.

We lack a coherent and muscular economic strategy, as Mr. Obama and his staff seem almost completely focused on his re-election. He should be spending most of his time on the nitty-gritty of the job instead of on fund raisers, bus tours and visits to diners, which essentially are in service of his political interests. Increasingly his solutions seem to boil down to Vote for Me.

Clearly the president will have to raise his game to win a second term, especially if the Republicans find a real candidate. Will voters be willing to give him another four years? Like many Americans who supported him, I long for a triple-A president to run a triple-A country.

Other possible defectors from the Obama bandwagon: Colin Powell, some of the more conservative members of the House (including retiring ones like Dan Boren of Oklahoma (who voted for Obama but declined to endorse) and Mike Ross of Arkansas), some of Obama’s disillusioned bundlers . . . Warren Buffett seems like a lost cause.

Tags: Barack Obama , Mort Zuckerman , Warren Buffett


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