Is Barack Obama too weak to win in November?

Obama gave a speech to Congress last September outlining a new jobs plan. Everyone knew of course that the Republicans would enact little to none of it, but the idea was to get Republicans on the record voting against various job-creation proposals, each financed by a small surtax on all dollars earned above $250,000 a year, and then use that against the Republicans. The votes were taken, and while the Republicans were smart enough to realize that they’d better support extending the cut in the employee’s portion of the payroll tax, they did vote against everything else (infrastructure, rehiring public employees, and more), as the Democrats figured they would. But what happened next? Obama seems to have forgotten about it completely.

It wasn’t, in fact, American Idol’s new season. It was that the jobs numbers started looking up. The economy added 243,000 jobs in January and 227,000 in February. Also, Mitt Romney was barely beating Rick Santorum in states where he should have eaten him for lunch. And finally, the story of Congress voting Obama down was old news and not inherently interesting. And so the Obama team moved on to other matters, and once it became clear six weeks ago that Romney would win the nomination, it started aiming its fire more at him than at the Congress.

That was understandable to some extent. But the unemployment rate is still high and always was. The rationale for congressional action on jobs never disappeared. The basic philosophical dispute continues to exist. And most obviously of all, the mendacity of GOP strategy—their obvious desire to harm the economy as long as Obama remains the president—never went away. Given all that, the way the White House completely dropped the obstructionism charge was baffling.

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