Saturday, August 22, 2009

One Term? White House Anticipating Tough Reelection in 2012

Well, that's the takeaway from Press Spokesman Robert Gibbs' statement that President Obama is "quite comfortable" with living and making decisions in this house for "four years."

That's bull, of course. All presidents look for reelection. Even Lyndon Johnson, at the height of the Vietnam War, sought a second term until his poor showing in the 1968 New Hampshire primary.

What Gibbs is admitting - and it's kind of surprising to me, actually - is that the White House is doubting the president's staying power in public opinion; and Gibbs' comment is a fearful acknowledgment that not only are things going poorly politically, but that healthcare reform may well be the administration's Waterloo.

For some related commentary, check out Fred Barnes' piece, "
Death of a Salesman: The More Obama Talks About Health Care, The Lower His Approval Rating Goes":

Between July 20 and July 30, President Obama was a busy man, barely out of the public eye while campaigning furiously for his health care initiative. He did four town hall events, spoke at two hospitals, delivered a radio address, was interviewed on two network TV news shows, and held a prime time press conference--all devoted to promoting his health care plan. On this issue as on no other, Obama personally took his case to the people.

Something else occurred during that time frame. The president's job approval rating fell 9 points, from 61 percent to 52 percent in the Gallup Poll. This was an unusually precipitous decline from which Obama hasn't recovered. In mid-August, after more weeks of barnstorming for his health care program, his approval rating remained in the low 50s. Only Bill Clinton among recent presidents had a lower approval after seven months in office.

For Obama, there's still worse news. Not only has he lost ground, but public support for his health care proposal has collapsed to the point that a majority of Americans prefer no reform at all to his plan. And the more he stumps for it, the less support it attracts. Rather than a peripheral phenomenon, the noisy opposition in congressional town hall meetings turns out to be a reflection of the deep national suspicion of Obamacare.

Two conclusions are inescapable. The first is that Obama is not Mr. Persuasive, a compelling orator like FDR, swaying public opinion with his words. Quite the contrary, he has failed to sustain public backing for his economic stimulus package, his decision to shut down Guantánamo, his proposed spending, the takeover of General Motors, bailouts in general, and now health care reform.

Health care is the big one for Obama, his signature program, the one that's most far-reaching and politically important. It's the real test of Obama. If he can't persuade the country to back it--and so far he's failed miserably--then he's not the spellbinding speaker or the master politician he's been cracked up to be. Yet the media won't acknowledge his failures. In the Washington Post on August 15, reporter Michael D. Shear wrote that Obama's "popularity and powers of persuasion may well make him the reform effort's most effective spokesman." If Shear is correct, then Obamacare is dead.

There's a corollary. The impulse at the White House to rely on Obama as salesman-in-chief, to put him on the road, is surely mistaken. For him, the bully pulpit has limited utility. In fact, presidential scholar George C. Edwards III argued in his book On Deaf Ears: The Limits of the Bully Pulpit that presidential speechmaking no longer moves public sentiment.

The second conclusion to draw is that Obama has been dragged down by his health care policy. The more he's identified himself with it, the less the public likes him. There's nothing irrational about this. Why should people without a partisan allegiance to Obama hang with him when they dislike his signature policy? There's no good reason.

Besides, it shows the public is paying serious attention to a national issue. This doesn't happen often. Democrats and Obamaphiles may not like the drift of the debate over health care, but it was Obama who prompted it. Now it's exposed his lack of persuasiveness.
Related: The Politico, "A Blue Dog's Lament: 'People Are Scared'" (via Memeorandum).


IgorMarxo said...

How you tell when politician lie?

Comrade Pelosi blink

Slick Willy rub nose

Comrade Oboma open mouth

Dumb Donkey Gibbs laugh...Hehaw..he..haw..he..haw!

Is this really healthcare "reform"?

Compare Obama Care vs Igor Care at Obama vs Igor Care

I Igor produce Barrack Milhaus Hussein Obama Birth Certificate at

dave in boca said...

Pat Buchanan on Hannity's radio show opines that Obama is becoming used to the helicopter/AirForceOne perks and will sell his ueber-leftie anti-American allies out in order to, as BJ did, savor the pervy perks of POTUS-hood. BJ would bite the inside of his lip when he lied; he would bite the lips of his rape-victims when he ravished them with impunity. Juanita & Gennifer both testified as to the BJ-in-Chief's fetishes.

Brian H said...

It has been pointed out elsewhere that Health Reform Part I was already passed covertly as part of the Stimulus Package. This is Part II. Part I contained the Death Boards. Already law of the land.