Democrats Turning Against The President

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on September 4, 2009

Maybe Barack Obama’s upcoming speech to Congress will take care of this problem, but it appears that Congressional Democrats are turning against the President on the issue of health care reform, given the fact that the White House has rather completely botched what was once thought to be a winning legislative and general political issue for the Democratic party:

One of Congress’s strongest proponents of a public option criticized President Obama for failing to lead the way on healthcare reform.

Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) said Obama has been sitting out the healthcare fight in August.

“We’ve been in a scrap through the month of August, but we really haven’t had presidential leadership in the way we need it most,” Weiner told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow last night.

I suppose I should ask at this point how long it will take before Democrats–heck, before the rest of the country–turns against the President thanks to the ever-worsening unemployment situation. Yes, I know that the President of the United States can’t really do all that much about unemployment; the powers of the President to shape and influence the national economy are much more limited than the public thinks they are. However, given that George W. Bush got attacked for rising unemployment even though the increase came after we reached functional rock bottom lows in unemployment at 4.5%, given that he got attacked for $3-$4/gallon gasoline even though the President of the United States does not set gasoline prices, and given that he got attacked for a financial crisis that was lots of years and lots of big government programs in the making ( see also this and this and this and this), then I suppose that in some sense, attacking Barack Obama for the increase in unemployment is sauce for the goose, and all that. I would be fine with having more accuracy in accusations of economic incompetence, but if the port-siders are unwilling to observe that rule when a Republican President is in office, then I am not going to weep all that much if hoisting and petards enter the picture when it comes to the political fate of the current President.

Footnote: I noted in the first sentence that Barack Obama’s anticipated speech to Congress might help him win back some of his lost political support. I wouldn’t be surprised if there is an uptick in the polls after the speech; the media will generally fawn over it, and irrespective of media fawning, Presidents are known to profit and do well in the immediate aftermath of an address to Congress. But there may be some reason to doubt that the speech will do the President and his cause any long-lasting good:

Doug Schoen, who took over polling for Clinton after the GOP landslide that propelled them to leadership of the House and Senate for the first time in 40 years, says the last thing this debate needs is another Obama speech.

“I think he’s out of touch with what he needs to do,” Schoen said. “I don’t think he needs another speech. I don’t think it’s a question of oration. I think it’s a question of the bill, the agreement, showing presidential leadership in getting the Democrats and Republicans in Congress, and their leadership, to the White House to hammer out an agreement that works in the interest of the American people.”

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