The Campaign Spot

If You Were in Obama’s Shoes, Wouldn’t You Be Worried?

Today’s Morning Jolt, the last of the week, features more bad economic projections — separate from today’s unemployment numbers, out at 8:30 Eastern, Charles Krauthammer thinks one White House staffer deserves a raise, and this thought, which I think summarizes the week:

Hey, Can Somebody Wake Up the President and Remind Him It’s September 2011?

Does it seem like there’s a certain . . . lack of urgency around this White House lately?

Try, for a moment, to put yourself in Obama’s shoes. You’re fulfilled your lifelong ambition to become President of the United States, when the American people became exhausted with the opposition party and a severe, sudden economic crisis triggered hard times for millions upon millions of Americans. Shortly after taking office, your allies, controlling Congress by a wide margin, enacted your plan for recovery. You enacted several other big pieces of your agenda. And now, almost three years into your term . . . unemployment is 9.1 percent. (It will change today, but August is traditionally a slow month; chances are we’re looking at 9.2 percent, 9.1 percent or 9.0 percent. Pretty lousy, any way you slice it.) Your approval rating tumbled to about 50-50 and in recent weeks it’s slumped some more. The right track/wrong direction numbers are abysmal.

Don’t you react to these circumstances with a sense of . . . if not panic, deep concern? Wouldn’t you be worried that you were on the verge of being a failed president? Wouldn’t you be on the phone with the opposition leader, pulling out all the stops to get some sort of big set of reforms that might give businesses and the markets a new shot in the arm of confidence? Would you go vacation at Martha’s Vineyard for a week, pledging that you would reveal your new plan later? And would you try some sort of cutesy-brinksmanship over the timing of your big unveiling of your proposal?

Doesn’t Obama seem strangely detached from his own current predicament?

Okay, he’s not detached. He’s outraged, at least according to the Politico headline writers.

What he’s outraged about . . . well . . . “It seemed like a trivial matter: On Wednesday, House Republicans forced the president to delay his speech to a joint session of Congress by one day. Who cares? The White House cares. Very much. ‘It is a big deal that the House said “no” to the president from our end,’ a White House source with intimate knowledge of what took place between the House and the president told me Thursday. ‘This confirms what we all know: They will do anything in the House to muck us up.’ The White House is viewing it as very consequential, however. ‘It is a big deal,’ the source said. ‘It shows the House Republicans will do no outreach, nothing.’ And who does the White House believe was really behind treating the president so shabbily? ‘At first, I didn’t think it was Boehner, but his caucus,’ the source said. ‘But maybe not. Maybe it is him.’”

Yup. That’s what gets the president outraged. Not the “Fast and Furious” scandal, not Bashir Assad continuing to mow down people in Syria, not the number of Americans on food stamps, not the Gibson guitar raid, not waste in the stimulus bill, not the loss of $500 million or so in that Solyndra . . . no, having to compromise on speech timing is what really grinds his gears.


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