Quotes of the day

“President Barack Obama earned the lowest monthly job approval rating of his presidency to date in August, with 41% of U.S. adults approving of his overall job performance, down from 44% in July. He also received term-low monthly job approval ratings from both Hispanics (48%) and whites (33%) and tied his lowest rating from blacks (84%)…

“The president’s current standing with Hispanics reflects a rather steep decline since January, when 60% approved of him. This follows Hispanics’ less-pronounced drops in their support in each of the first two years of his presidency. As a result, the gap between blacks and whites in Obama’s job approval has been widening while the gap between Hispanics’ and whites’ approval has been narrowing.

“Although Hispanics’ monthly approval of Obama dipped below 50% for the first time in August, more still approve than disapprove (48% vs. 37%) of his job performance.”

“Facing stubborn jobless numbers and the most pessimistic public since his inauguration, President Obama’s key base groups give him some of their lowest marks to date, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. Indeed, Obama’s job approval ratings among Democrats, liberals and those under age 30 tie or set record lows in the survey, and the numbers are no better on his handling of the economy, jobs, or the deficit.

“Among his most natural base — those who voted for him in 2008 — 79 percent approve of his job performance, and 70 percent rate him positively on the economy. Still fewer liberals, 69 percent, approve of the job he’s doing as president, tying a record low from July. And for the first time since he entered office, fewer than half of adults under age 30 approve of Obama. Voters under age 30 supported Obama by roughly 2 to 1 in 2008.”

“The once-muscular presidency of Barack Obama has undergone a dramatic downsizing – in power, popularity, prestige and ambition – to the point where even Obama die-hards are starting to question his ability to right the economy or win reelection…

“‘He has sort of lost the sense of power and mystique of the presidency,’ says longtime Obama ally Andy Stern, former president of the powerful Service Employees International Union. ‘There’s also a sense that people aren’t scared of him. That’s very dangerous.’…

“[T]o critics and allies alike, the fact that the president of the United State has to tip-toe around Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees for the privilege of delivering a plan for putting Americans back to work is a measure of just how far he’s been humbled by an unforgiving economy, unyielding GOP and an unnerved, underemployed nation.

“‘He’s allowed the Congress to manhandle him, said one top Democratic ally of Obama’s. “Every time he’s put his foot down they’ve kicked him in the shin. It’s goddamn embarrassing. He’s losing power. He needs to grab it back.'”

“President Obama may have escaped the burden of a Democratic primary challenger. Yet the battle to define him is rapidly escalating — not only by Republicans competing to run against him, but also within his own team inside the White House…

“The White House is in the midst of rebranding the president as a pragmatic problem solver prepared to set aside ideology to address a compelling need (see last week’s concession on ozone regulations), a reasonable man in an era dominated by extreme views. But they also emphasize that he is willing to draw distinctions with conservatives, reflecting a central tension that has defined him as a candidate and as president: that in trying to lay claim to a broad swath of the electorate, as he succeeded in doing in 2008, he risks pleasing neither the center nor the left, the story of much of his time in office…

“While the president will not directly confront the Republican nominee until well into next year, his advisers believe that the next three months are critical to improving his standing and reversing his downward trajectory. He is frustrated — particularly at Republicans on Capitol Hill, but also at some of his own aides, according to people who have spoken to him recently — that he has been unable to rise above the morass of Washington and recapture the spirit that helped him win election.”

“My sense is Mr. Obama is trying to channel Harry Truman, circa 1948, to create the impression of a ‘do-nothing’ Republican Congress to run against. The problem is that Truman’s agenda was popular. Mr. Obama’s hasn’t been and is unlikely to be.

“Nor is the president’s speech likely to change public opinion. At this point, the only thing that can rescue Mr. Obama’s dismal approval rating on the economy is an improvement in the dismal economy itself.

“The great danger facing Mr. Obama tonight is that the public simply tunes him out, viewing his pronouncements as either irrelevant or annoying.

“It’s been a dramatic fall for a man who was, his supporters assured us in 2008, America’s best orator since Abraham Lincoln. Now he’s reduced to a warm-up act for a football game.”

Truman went around the country during the 1948 campaign blasting the GOP for threatening all the popular Democratic reforms of the past decade. The Agricultural Adjustment Administration, the National Labor Relations Act, the Tennessee Valley Authority, and of course Social Security – all these programs and more would be threatened if those dastardly Republicans got their hands on the government! The message here was clear: The economy might be headed back into recession, so you don’t want to endanger all those important programs the Democrats designed to protect you during economically challenging times.

So why won’t this work for Obama? Let’s answer this with a question: what’s the most recent, popular Democratic social welfare program? Medicare, which is now 46 years old. Obama can’t go around the country pointing to all the popular Democratic programs the GOP are going to take away because there are no popular Democratic programs, at least none that are less than a generation old…

“Instead, it looks more and more like Obama is actually going to run Carter’s 1980 campaign. Sure, he has nothing popular to show for his four years in office, but he’s still better than the out-and-out radical the GOP just nominated. Will that work for Obama?

“Well … did it work for Carter?”