I just shudder to think that the president is going to head into this fall’s battle over the economy while sticking to these soupy clichés and the worldview behind them. How much evidence do they need to see that Republicans will return to Washington imbued with the spirit of partisan hostility? When will Obama ever utter fighting words?
I hope—alas, against hope—that the White House is keeping a scorecard of this year so far. That scorecard reads Republicans 2, Obama 0 (the threatened government shutdown and the debt deal), covering a period during which the president’s approval ratings have sagged by about 10 points, and this even though he iced Osama bin Laden. What the Republicans are doing is working. It’s pretty nearly working perfectly. It doesn’t matter that the GOP’s disapproval numbers are high. People vote for individual candidates, not parties, and Obama is now in trouble in some big states in head-to-head matchups with Mitt Romney and Rick Perry. Obviously the people in the White House know all this. They just don’t seem to want to do anything about it.