Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Impossible Expectations for Obama Speech

Obama Speech - Conference Meeting
President Obama is in worse shape now with voters than he was one year ago just ahead of the worst electoral rout for Democrats since 1946. Poll after poll, including those that usually buoy the president’s job-approval average, show Obama falling to new lows, and dissatisfaction with the direction of the country reaching levels not seen since the aftermath of the Panic of 2008.
With that as his backdrop, Obama will this week begin to release an economic and fiscal plan that he promised one month ago that he would reveal after his family vacation. The pitch will begin with an early evening speech on Thursday, already groaning under the massive expectations placed upon it by the White House. It was designed to be a “game changer” by a political operation obsessed with game changing.
That obsession is one of the reasons that the president has had such an unhappy 32 months in office. Unlike the campaign world of daily tracking polls and overnight sound bites, the presidency doesn’t lend itself much to game changing. While candidate Obama could end months of embarrassment over his former preacher’s radical views with one big speech on race and religion or stifle Hillary Clinton’s comeback with the endorsement of the Kennedy clan, President Obama can’t do the same thing for the downward direction of the economy.
All modern presidents are in permanent campaign mode, but this president and his team seem trapped by campaign psychology. After all of the purfled prose devoted to the genius of the Obama organization and the way in which it revolutionized American politics, it’s not surprising that Team Obama has a rather lofty view of itself.
Less discussed has been the matter of circumstance. No one may have ever been luckier in presidential politics than Obama, except for James Garfield who was surprised to learn at the 1880 Republican convention of his own nomination. With weak opponents and a perfectly timed financial panic, Obama was able to turn good oratory and a redemptive racial message into an improbable presidential victory. Read More...


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