Can The Obama Presidency Be Saved?

barack obama

Photo: AP

President Obama, in case you hadn’t noticed, faces a very difficult re-election campaign.Virtually every indicator of future success has turned against him in the last month: unemployment remains stubbornly high, consumer confidence is down sharply, economic growth forecasts are anemic. 

The president even loses to a generic Republican in Gallup “trial heats.”  Worse, when paired against a generic Republican, the president attracts just 39% of the vote.  

There’s an old rule in politics that says that the president’s number in the Gallup poll will be his number on election day, because (as one former colleague put it) “it’s not like anyone needs more information about a president running for re-election.” The fact that President Obama’s number is 39% in the Gallup match-up against a “generic” Republican is, for Democrats, a terrifying fact.

We frequently link to Walter Mead for political (and geo-political) analysis and we do so again today because he addresses the question of the political moment.  Which is this: Can This Presidency Be Saved?  Here’s some of what he says:

 In particular, (President Obama) has said nothing memorable about the crisis that is shaking the global economy and undermining the American middle class.  The meltdown of the blue social model is the great and inescapable fact of our time.   In what many voters will feel as a sign of financial apocalypse, the AARP has dropped its opposition to cuts in Social Security benefits.  At home, Democrats like Andrew Cuomo and Jerry Brown are slashing budgets and attacking the perks of public sector labour unions almost as industriously as Republicans like Scott Walker and Mitch Daniels.  Abroad, Socialists like Greek Premier George Papandreou is cutting as hard as the Conservative David Cameron.  Germany has passed a balanced budget amendment; France is debating its own version.  Economic turmoil is shaking the political foundations; rising food prices helped set off the Arab Spring, the price of gold has gone through the roof, and China and other foreign creditors are increasingly sceptical about the long term value of their dollar-backed assets.

President Obama’s predecessor made many mistakes, but something is at work here that is much bigger than the faults of the Bush administration.  It is not just a US domestic problem, because we see it in the more-regulated European countries as well as in the less-regulated US.

Americans are realistic enough to understand that the breakdown of the blue social model is a messy process and that perhaps no president can deliver a pain free transition to the next stage.  But what they aren’t hearing from President Obama is a compelling description of what has gone wrong, how it can be fixed, and how the policies he proposes will take us to the next level.

What they hear from this administration are defensive responses: Hooveresque calls for patience mingled with strange-sounding attacks on ATMs and sharp, opportunistic jabs at former President Bush.  The White House has responded to strategic challenges at home and abroad with tactical maneuvers.

Voters sense that we live in historic times that demand leadership of a different kind. 

You can read the whole thing here.

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