Hot new Democratic talking point: Congress is actually “the Republican Congress”

posted at 7:59 pm on October 27, 2011 by Allahpundit

It’s all our fault.

“I’m the first one to acknowledge that the relations between myself and the Republican Congress have not been good over the last several months, but it’s not for lack of effort,” Obama told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos earlier this month…

“I’m sure the president would like it to be creating jobs more quickly. And if the members of the do-nothing Republican Congress would actually put a couple of oars in the water and help us, [we could] do these things like [Mississippi] Gov. [Haley] Barbour mentioned that make so much sense,” Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” earlier this month…

Darrell West, director of governance studies at the Brookings Institution, said, “Democrats are trying to give ownership of Congress to Republicans because the institution is dysfunctional and not addressing the jobs problem, and this is a way to tie blame to the GOP.”…

Washington insiders and those who track politics know that the 112th Congress is divided. But polls taken over the last several years show that many voters are unclear which party runs the House and/or Senate.

A cheap messaging ploy but a shrewd one. Congress’s approval rating is now at — no typo — nine percent, the first time it’s reached single digits since the NYT began polling the question more than 20 years ago. There’s no way to know but I’d bet it’s sunk that low only a few times in the whole of American history. Said freshman Rep. Trey Gowdy to Politico, “We’re below sharks and contract killers” in popularity. Hence the appeal to Obama in trying to replicate Truman’s 1948 strategy. As horrible as the economy is and as much blame as The One will get for it, his own alleged “do-nothing Congress” is a scapegoat-in-waiting unlike any that most presidents have ever enjoyed. In theory, all he needs to do is figure out a way to channel public frustration over our stimulus-infused, ObamaCare-burdened economy towards Congress and he’s back in the game electorally. This is a subtle but effective way of doing it, notwithstanding the fact that two Senate Democrats joined the GOP in filibustering his jobs bill and three more said they would have voted no on the final bill. (If you’re unfamiliar with the filibuster, it’s an obstructionist abomination — or, if the GOP happens to have a majority in the Senate, a crucial guarantee of full and free democratic debate.)

The thing is, they’re ultimately making an argument against gridlock here, not necessarily an argument against the GOP. According to the Times, Congress’s approval was 24 percent as recently as February, shortly after the new Republican House was sworn in. That’s not good but it’s in line with where Congress’s numbers have been at times over the past five years. The big collapse didn’t begin until later in the summer, after the interminable debt-ceiling standoff, and picked up speed with the deadlock over Obama’s jobs bill. The GOP will sustain some damage over that since they initiated the debt-ceiling saga by demanding meaningful budget cuts, but what’s got most voters disgusted (I think) isn’t the actual nuts and bolts of the policy disagreements but rather the simple fact of congressional paralysis. That paralysis could be cured by replacing “the Republican Congress” with a Democratic one … or it could be cured by replacing the Democratic president and Senate majority with Republicans. And since the election’s bound to be a referendum on Obama’s first term, the Democrats are more likely to bear the brunt of that anti-gridlock sentiment. Why elect Romney, after all, if you intend to give back the House to Democrats? You’ll end up with four more years of stalemate (unless he ends up governing like a Democrat, of course). In fact, if the GOP nominee ends up leading Obama late next fall, you’re bound to hear him push that message on the trail. “Elect me, but you’d better elect a Republican Senate too or else we’re in for another four-year arm-wrestling match.”

Here’s the leader of “the Republican Congress” on with Laura Ingraham today, wondering where President Zeus got the power to start passing stimulus measures himself simply because he doesn’t like dealing with Congress these days.

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