It’s been a tough couple of weeks for President Obama, one of those stretches where everything seems to go south at once. The economy is soft, his poll numbers are down, and Europe has the markets on edge; Romney is even beating him in the money race. What was once hailed as personal confidence — or condemned as arrogance — is long gone. Panic has set in, and it’s making Team Obama do strange and disturbing things…
For months, the White House has been assuming that the economy would be humming by Election Day. Caught flat-footed by the recent slowdown, they have nothing to offer but reheated leftovers from the 2009 stimulus — proposals that not even the Democratic-controlled Senate has passed. Add to that the fact that they will only add to our crushing debt; no Congress will raise taxes in an election year. Memo to the president: The solution to too much debt is not more debt.
Panic-driven responses aren’t just silly or embarrassing; they can be dangerous too. With no good economic news in sight, the White House has embarked on a mission to burnish the president’s national-security credentials. In their desperation to write a compelling narrative for their candidate, Obama’s operatives appear to have disclosed highly classified information.
As President Obama left on Sunday for an international summit meeting in Mexico, the daunting array of overseas issues underscored the challenges for an incumbent who is trying to manage global affairs while arguing a case for re-election. Although American voters are not particularly focused on foreign policy in a time of economic trouble, the rest of the world has a way of occupying a president’s time and intruding on his best-laid campaign plans.
If anything, the dire headlines from around the world only reinforce an uncomfortable reality for this president and any of his successors: even the world’s last superpower has only so much control over events beyond its borders, and its own course can be dramatically affected in some cases. Whether from ripples of the European fiscal crisis or flare-ups of violence in Baghdad, it is easy to be whipsawed by events…
Some Romney advisers said Mr. Obama was too willing to avoid accountability by presenting himself as a powerless bystander.
The campaign has an almost mystical confidence in sophisticated technology and in its organization, assets that only matter in a razor-tight race. Further, these other strategists say, the Obama camp is no more justified in its belief that this campaign is like a rerun — with the uniforms changed — of 2004, when a shakily popular Republican president won re-election, than it would be to believe that 2012 is a reprise of 1980, when an incumbent president was thrown out for non-performance.
Any outreach by Obama’s Chicago acolytes to hear out these arguments is limited and superficial.
A longtime Democratic strategist predicts defeat unless there is some boldness. He offers an idea: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, as popular as any American figure, has said she plans to resign after the election. Obama should persuade her to leave her post a month or so early and campaign for him. She might add some electricity and she wouldn’t be likely to commit the same occasional discipline lapses as her husband.
The secretary probably would reject such a suggestion, and team Obama wouldn’t ask. They don’t believe they need help. More than a few Democrats disagree.
This morning on “This Week,” President Obama’s former economic adviser and current ABC News consultant, Austan Goolsbee, said that the president should “have a mea culpa.” What Goolsbee said on the roundtable in full is below:
Goolsbee: “I think Matt’s right that we ought to come forward — and both sides — and the president should have a mea culpa, that we have gotten into a place that was very different from what the campaign wanted it to be from 2008, one in which — and, look, I think you could blame more the Republicans, but I’m sure the Republicans would say more you blame the president, but we got to — we got to back away from that. Otherwise, we’re not going to be able to confront this pretty serious challenge at the time when we — when we could do it.”…
Scroll to 16:30 in the video below to hear Goolsbee’s comments.