Political Animal


August 26, 2011 1:25 PM Public wants Obama to challenge unpopular GOP

By Steve Benen

The latest Pew Research Center report includes an enormous amount of polling data, much of pointing in familiar directions — the public is frustrated and deeply unhappy with nearly everyone and everything. But if we look beyond the top-line results, there are some related details that matter quite a bit.

For example, mainstream support for the Republican Party is reaching new depths. In the new poll, just 34% have a favorable opinion of the GOP. This is the lowest level of popularity for either major party since the Pew Research Center began asking the question two decades ago. The approval rating for congressional Republican leaders is down to just 22% — also the lowest ever recorded for either party. (The Democratic Party isn’t winning any popularity contests, but with a 43% favorable rating, Dems have a large edge over Republicans.)

And what about President Obama? The results here are pretty important, and should be of great interest to the White House.

The president’s overall approval rating has ticked down to 43%, but it’s the related details (pdf) that are arguably more interesting. Obama is perceived as a warm, trustworthy president, who’s well informed, communicates well, and cares about regular people. His support has sharply dropped, however, in the “strong leader” and “able to get things done” categories, and the only subject area in which Obama has a majority support is combating terrorism.

Looking ahead, this gem is arguably the most important result of all:

In general, compromise polls extremely well, but not in this case — a plurality wants Obama to fight Republicans more, and that total is up sharply over the last few months. What’s more, the number of self-identified Republicans who want Obama to stand up more to the GOP has roughly doubled since April.

Think about that: a growing number of Republicans want Obama to stand up more to Republicans.

Jon Chait had a compelling take on this:

The question hanging over Obama’s political strategy has always been the endgame. His obsession with seeming reasonable makes sense if he uses it as an asset to spend down at the end. You do everything to show your willingness to compromise, and when the opposition refuses and refuses, finally you assail them for their fanaticism. It’s harrowing to watch, because we don’t know until the last minute whether we’re witnessing a rope-a-dope strategy, or just a boxer being beaten to a pulp.

This raises the stakes in the upcoming speech on the White House’s economic agenda quite a bit, but it also sends a signal to the president about what the public wants to see: be ready to fight the wildly unpopular Republican Party, rather than trying to satisfy their demands.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


Post a comment
  • c u n d gulag on August 26, 2011 1:39 PM:

    Dear President Obama,

    I beg you, please, Please, PLEASE, DON'T play 'Rope-a-dope' with the Republicans!!!

    Sure, they're dopes, but it's what they may think of using that rope for that worries me...

  • Burr Deming on August 26, 2011 1:39 PM:

    The public would respond well to a Truman-like approach to Republican obstructionism, I think. So far, we've gotten FDR-lite as a policy and rhetoric taken from Hoover.

  • Fess on August 26, 2011 1:42 PM:

    The question hanging over Obama's political strategy has always been the endgame.... we don't know until the last minute whether we're witnessing a rope-a-dope strategy, or just a boxer being beaten to a pulp.

    And there's the crux of the Obama question. Really, I never know. Is he waiting for the perfect moment to strike or is he just a wuss? I always hope for the perfect moment, but I'm just not sure.

  • pamelabrown on August 26, 2011 1:51 PM:

    I think the Pew poll and your analysis is important and elucidating. Here is where you and most EVERYONE who has to generate multiple posts for the voracious 24/7 (no)news cycle: we're too impatient, we're political junkies and I'd be really surprised that the president doesn't land some knock out counter-punches when everyday people start to pay attention. NOW, is not the time; it's the August "silly season".

    Just because the president doesn't demonize the opposition, doesn't preclude his adroitness at landing the punches when they're most effective. I think we'd be better off by adopting a patient, more zen like view

    I know that runs counter to our microwave society.

  • DisgustedWithItAll on August 26, 2011 1:58 PM:

    @Fess. I had recently concluded, after the December, government shutdown, and debt ceiling "negotiations," that he's "just a wuss." If Obama comes out all milquetoast on the jobs speech in September, it'll be clear that that is correct. And I think he'll lose in 2012 if he does that, and that the Obama Presidency was the beginning of the end of a nation I want to live in.

  • Equal Opportunity Cynic on August 26, 2011 2:02 PM:

    I beg you, please, Please, PLEASE, DON'T play 'Rope-a-dope' with the Republicans!!!

    Isn't Chait's point that between two possible interpretations/outcomes, rope-a-dope is the good one? BHO has either been making nice to set them up for the kill or to get destroyed himself. The former would be implied by rope-a-dope, yes?

  • DisgustedWithItAll on August 26, 2011 2:02 PM:

    I think pamelabrown's ideas are precisely the ideas that lead to absolute defeat and losing the nation we want. For far too long, Democrats have allowed themselves to be punched in the mouth without a similar response. Republicans are in a holy war. It doesn't do to play nice with these people. I don't know how anybody who's been paying attention to the last 20+ years could think otherwise. The Republican idiots aren't even embarrassed by rejecting science.

  • RT on August 26, 2011 2:07 PM:

    "What�s more, the number of self-identified Republicans who want Obama to stand up more to the GOP has roughly doubled since April."

    Some Republicans realize that they can't save the GOP from itself, but President Obama can.

  • Michaeli on August 26, 2011 2:07 PM:

    I agree fess, this is the silly season presently, I think Obama knows when to politically strike,
    @disgusted, microwave society is a very apt analogy.

    FOREBRAIN) willfac (must be referring to the hope of a republican brain sometime soon HAHAHAHAHAHAHHA joke

  • Equal Opportunity Cynic on August 26, 2011 2:13 PM:

    @DisgustedWithItAll: I think you're missing the point of pamelabrown's comment. If in fact the Dems are playing to win a chess match and the Republicans are hopeless at chess but trash talking and making shrill and obnoxious noises between moves, the Dems should ignore the distractions and concentrate on winning the chess match.

    Whether that metaphor does indeed hold is very much up for debate, but pamelabrown seems to think along those lines.

  • DisgustedWithItAll on August 26, 2011 2:24 PM:

    @pamelabrown, Michaeli, Equal Opportunity Cynic:

    I agree I was too hasty with pamelabrown's comments. My bad. I didn't read them carefully enough. I've just gotten too conditioned to turn-the-other-cheek liberals doing just that, and losing important policy and messaging, that when I see a word like "zen" my hackles get raised because I very much want and need to see some fight in the folks I'm depending on for stewardship of a country I want to live in and be a part of. The thought of Republicans achieving their dreams of dismantling the New Deal, Great Society, EPA, returning the country to the Gilded Age (or Haiti status), killing any chance that the country is foremost in new technology, etc., scares the shit out of me.

    My apologies to pamelabrown. I shouldn't have been so hasty.

  • Just Guessing on August 26, 2011 2:33 PM:

    Obviously Obama has an eye on 2012 and the rope-a-dope strategy is somewhat contingent on who the Repugs end up nominating so I can accept to be a little more patient on some issues.

    But why delay anymore on hammering them on jobs and growing the economy. Repug policy is clear: at best, do abolutely nothing to promote either, or do everything to make things worse, which is my take. So hammer them now. And hard. It really resonates with people because apart from the 24% or so hard-core Repugs, there are many that understand what needs to be done and frankly are looking for someone that will stand up and fight to get it done. It's Obama's chance now to prove he is the guy to do it and he'll have another 4 years. It's called leadership.

  • jjm on August 26, 2011 2:45 PM:

    Don't count Obama out yet. Yes, I know we are impatient.

    Still, consider his.

    His time in office has brought the ugliest and most repulsive aspects of the GOP's real agendas, their true feelings, right out in the open, rather than remaining safely hidden behind their hypocritical supercilious and sanctimonious masks as the 'moral majority' the party of fiscal responsibility, as the party that protects us from terrorism etc ad nauseam.

    There's no one except a few die-hard Fox listeners who believe a word they say on these issues any more. Sure they yell and make ludicrous assertions to draw attention to themselves. But really 12% approval ratings do tell a tale...

    I'm sure he is brewing up something. But only time will tell. Since many are on vacation right now, and we have earthquakes and hurricanes to compete with the President for headlines, I am happy to wait for the propitious moment to announce the jobs plan. It just better be a good one!

  • vhh on August 26, 2011 2:56 PM:

    I'll bet on rope-a-dope myself.

    I've seen Obama use this too many times to think it's an accident. He is naturally cool, reasonable and in search of pragmatic solutions. This exasperates the more progressive Dems who want him to promote their priorities more forcefully, but also drives his opponents on the right to say and do unreasonable, inane, and ultimately insane things. Examples: during the 2008 primaries, quietly goading ("you're likeable enough") Hillary Clinton (with whom he agrees on many things, and who is, like O himself, a policy wonk) to lash out in fatigued desperation to a rural NC crowd that she would further the interests of "ordinary Americans, white people." Hillary is no racist, but I think she jumped the shark there. In the general election, John McCain was trying simultaneously to not represent a continuation of the Bush/Cheney yrs (despite being chained to an increasingly right wing GOP) and to find something to bash Obama with. In exasperation he too fell back on identity politics: (1) McCain referred to Obama during the debates as "that one" while Obama referred to him Senator McCain or John and openly praised his military record; (2) McCain tried to paint Obama, the bi-racial son of a single mother with multiple failed marriages, who spent part of his youth fed by food stamps and on scholarships, who has been married to one woman, and owns one car and one house, an elitist. This boomeranged as it became widely known that McCain is the son and grandson of high ranking military officers, has been a beneficiary of generous govt benefits all his life, and dumped his loyal first wife to marry a beer heiress, whose wealth made his political career possible--and by the way allowed the McCains to acquire 8 houses, a fact he had to have his staff check on since he was unsure himself. Even without the clear downward pull of Sarah Palin on the ticket, this fiasco alone might have been enough to cost him the election.

    Obama has continued to use, with stylistic variations, the same rope a dope move successfully over and over again as President. The most dramatic victims so far are the Birthers. Just as Birther madness reached a crescendo, Obama's lawyer made special arrangements with Hawaii to release the so called long form original, leaving the Birthers sputtering and probably costing the wingnut welfare funders a lot of money to buy up Jerome Corsi's hit job of a book.

    And so it continues as we enter the 2012 campaign. The only GOP moderate presidential candidates, MItt Romney and Jon Huntsman, both well educated, successful people who, as governors espoused practical policies not unlike those of Obama, have had to move to the right to placate the GOP radicals, and if nominated, will be painted as frauds running at odds with their own beliefs in a general election campaign against Obama. And any true wingnut candidate like Perry or Bachmann who wins the GOP nomination will have to explain how they can half drown the federal government with budget cuts and ramp up job growth at the same time. Perry is particularly vulnerable, as it now emerges that Texas has used $20B of Obama stimulus funds to fill their budget gaps and win nearly half (47%) of the jobs produces by the stimulus program. Now that the GOP congress has refused to stimulate further, Texas is facing multi billion dollar budget gaps and is laying off teachers and other state employees like crazy.

    So how come Obama and his team have been able to use this method over and over again without opponents catching on and countering it effectively? Well, as I noted before, in addition to being very intelligent. Obama seems to have a cool, patient temperament, good self control, and studied objectivity, these probably owe a great deal to his unusual upbringing. It is also crucially important that so far, no personal scandals have emerged. [Their apparent absence infuriates his opponents, the more extreme of which are driven to claim by way of projection that all politicians have skeletons, there must be a coverup going on . . this loud reaction leaves them open to the same riposte that turned the Birthers into a national joke.]

    It will be interesting to see how Obama and his team the next inning, with mounting calls for a more aggressive response to the GOP obstructionism. He probably needs to up the rhetoric to appear more can-do and to keep the more liberal Dems on the reservation. But based on past behavior, I expect he will do this in a measured way so as not to lose the reasonableness weapon he has deployed successfully in prior battles.

  • pamelabrown on August 26, 2011 3:00 PM:

    Thanks, DisgustedWithItAll. Still it saddens me that you equate zen-like calm with turning the other cheek.

    Question: have you read the book "Nixonland"? I'm quite sure that I'm as liberal as you: we aspire to a liberal vision.

    I, however have come to the conclusion that we don't know how how to maintain power long enough to change the Overton Window. Anyway, I look forward to engaging you in the future.

  • bcinax on August 26, 2011 3:38 PM:

    I'm not seeing what you're seeing. 25% want Obama to go along (Tea Party), and 26% think he's handling things just right, which according to me is the same as going along (caving). That totals 51% who approve of this strategy to let Boehner win every argument all the time. The 37% of us who are living in a constant state of disappointment are not the plurality.

  • DAY on August 26, 2011 3:41 PM:

    Very nice writing, vhh. And true, to boot!

    As I said earlier today, Sun Tzu's "The Art of War" is also a blueprint for waging a political campaign, and you point out several examples of Obama's deployment of its tactics. With more to come!

  • square1 on August 26, 2011 3:42 PM:

    We are not witnessing a brilliant rope-a-dope strategy, even if it is sort of President Obama's plan. Here is the fatal flaw: policy matters.

    To date, President Obama has repeatedly employed a technique of toning down adversarial rhetoric, adopting GOP positions (often pre-emptively) and trying to make his political opponents look like unreasonable extremists.

    The problem is that, the method that Obama employs results in him being viewed as personally reasonable, thus it is a win for him personally, but in doing so he keeps moving the Overton Window to the right.

    It would be one thing if Obama appeared reasonable but consistently repeated liberal talking points. But because Obama embraces traditionally GOP frames for issues, from a policy standpoint he hasn't laid the foundation for a comeback.

    For example, I can't imagine what Obama's big job announcement could be that would be both good from a policy standpoint and consistent with his prior statements. Obama has spent 2 1/2 years on a jihad against the deficit. He just signed on to the supercommittee debt-reduction plan. Any jobs plan that Obama unveils at this point is either going to be worthless from a Keynesian standpoint or its going to blow up the debt-ceiling agreement.

    Seriously. How can Obama square the circle? I'm all years.

    I'd also that, in rolling his plan out, Obama has made two additional fatal flaws. First, by announcing that it will come in a few weeks, Obama signals that he doesn't consider job-creation to be urgent. "Weeks" may sound fast in D.C., but for unemployed people out in the rest of the country they want a plan NOW.

    Second, by making it a surprise, Obama gives the impression that it is gimmicky. After all, if you have a strong economic principles, your economic plans don't come as a surprise.

    Take the Ryan plan. I didn't write it, but I could have. Why? Because I know what the GOP economic philosophy. So in a recession, I know what they are going to say.

    The Democrats should have an off-the-shelf solution for our economic problems: "In a demand-driven recession with high unemployment, we advocate accelerating anticipated spending on infrastructure. We advocate financing the spending by issuing debt in order to avoid taking money out of the economy. And we anticipate reducing the debt-GDP ratio by buying binds back when the economy rebounds."

    That should be the Democratic response to a recession, always. No surprises. No secret announcements. No delays. If the GOP won't agree, fine, but at least someone is advocating the correct course of action.

  • MNRD on August 26, 2011 3:59 PM:

    I agree with vhh, and , in fact, I see the contours of the plan - there is, of course, no guarantee that it will work, but I will say this: it is potentially far more potent than anything the President used on Hillary or McCain. In essence, it comes down to turning November 2012 into a choice between the Democratic Party and a global economic panic leading to a depression. As we move further and further into the fall of 2012 it will become increasingly clear that a Republican electoral victory would set off a global economic panic. And then it will be obvious that keeping the calming, reassuring presence of President Obama in the White House is just what the doctor ordered.

  • Goldilocks on August 26, 2011 3:59 PM:

    He's got to give up trying to succeed policy-wise. It's not going to work between now and 2013. It's tough to accept the inevitable - not just for Democrats and Obama, but for the majority of citizens.

    Expecting success where none is possible is a mug's game. Better by far is to go way big on policy solutions and let that sink in over the coming year. Never mind about getting anything done - that's just not going to happen.

  • sjw on August 26, 2011 4:58 PM:

    On this thread too I read opinions that Obama is a Zen master. The problem with the analogy is that as we wait on Obama to turn into Bruce Lee, the country suffers. Rope-a-dope, with the country not only in the noose but getting asphyxiated. Sorry to tell you this, but we're waiting for Godot.

  • Mitch on August 26, 2011 5:24 PM:

    @square1 ... You said:

    "The problem is that, the method that Obama employs results in him being viewed as personally reasonable, thus it is a win for him personally, but in doing so he keeps moving the Overton Window to the right."

    This is the most frustrating thing about the Obama administration for me. Sometimes I think that he is paralyzed by fear of being labeled a liberal extremist, so he keeps trying to show the public that he is more than willing to be bi-partisan.

    Unfortunately he ends up giving the Repugs exactly what they ask for. . . and they STILL label him an extremist.

    If he came at them with a truly Progressive vision, then at least we would stand a chance of negotiating to something reasonable. Unlike the Deficit Ceiling debacle, where -surprise, surprise - the Repugs got more than they initially wanted when they asked for 85/15. I blame that on the fact that his Starting Offer was 83/17. If you give bullies what they demand, then they WILL ALWAYS demand more.

    I feel the same way about the ACA - which was recycled '90s Repug garbage that may help cover the uninsured, but it CERTAINLY helps line the pockets of insurance companies and is very far from Progressive ideology.

    Is it all Obama's fault? Hell no. But he is the single most visible American on Earth, the supposed head of the Democratic Party, and the loudest possible voice for spreading a Progressive message. Instead he plays into the right's hands and treats them like reasonable, honest opponents with good intentions. And with every step the conversation moves further and further to the right.

    He's done good as President in many ways. Fighting to save the Auto Industry, helping to kill DADT, and always being the Grown Up in the room, for example.

    But ALL of that comes a distant second to the economy. There is no greater risk to his presidency than the current economic slump. The recession is hurting millions of Americans badly. And as long as we keep giving the Tea Baggers what they demand the economy will continue to suffer.

    No matter what he does, they will attempt to block him at every turn, dismantle the advances of the past century and refer to all of we Libruls as un-American traitors. Period.

    The Repugs have shown that they will not be reasonable, will not negotiate, and will ignore any opportunity to help ordinary Americans. When faced with an enemy who will not negotiate, the only option os to fight them. To draw a line in the sand and say, "I stand HERE; they stand THERE."

    How difficult is it to call them out for their dangerous and damaging behavior?

    I remember Dubya calling out Dems for holding up a vote on Defense Spending once upon a time. He said that it didn't sound very "American" to hold the troops hostage for the sake of politics.

    I am not suggesting that Obama start calling the Repugs vile names like they call him (although they deserve all sorts of monikers). But I am suggesting that he lay out a plan that is markedly different from anything that they would espouse, and that he explain one simple truth: "We have been following the Republican lead on economics since 2001, and all it has gotten us is this great recession."

    But I won't hold my breath. I expect nothing more from this upcoming speech than the usual mealy mouthed bipartisan nonsense. He'll take a few light-weight jabs at the Repugs, but then fall in line with their agenda again. For the sake of bipartisanship that will never happen.

    I have seen nothing from him so far to think that he will fight them with a fraction of the resolve that is needed. I do not have faith that he will pull a 180 and suddenly become a true progressive politician.

    Even when many Americans, many economists, many business leaders (even traditionally right wing voices) and the Fed all want a progressive economic agenda, he will still slide to the Right to appease those who will NEVER be appeased.

    Personally I now view Obama as just another politician, concerned only with the election, and too timid to stand up to the right wing thugs that surround him. I no longer believe that he is in the White House to do good for his fellow citizens; I think that he's there for the sake of his own career. Still, I will vote for him next year if only because there is no other choice.

    I believe that he will win next year, but if he keeps letting the right wing extremists call the shots then the damage to the country will be beyond repair. I easily forsee the 2016 election giving us another Republican President (not to mention more R's in Congress), just due to the people being so fed up by the bad economy that they reject the D's outright. Then the New Deal will be completely destroyed, America will crumble to dust, the middle class will be destroyed and our way of life will become the corporate feudalism that the Repugs so desire.

  • liam foote on August 26, 2011 5:25 PM:

    Yes, the rope-a-dope analogy is appropriate. It appears to me that Mr. Obama has regularly been steering the GOP further to the wingnut fringe. Cases in point include those instances of complete hypocrisy, such as opposing Federal funds but taking credit for the results, or opposing the ideas that they themselves initiated.

    Yes, he took heat from his own base for agreeing to extend the Bush cuts (to save the unemployed among us) but has now set the stage for debate on the subject just as the 2012 elections are upon us. As a vast majority of voters want to see no further extension, he is in good shape.

    He will subsequently be able to propose comparable tax cuts for the middle class and small businesses and the GOP will oppose this at their extreme peril. Bottom line is that I think he sees the big picture and will have his ducks sitting in a row as the election nears.

  • DisgustedWithItAll on August 26, 2011 5:26 PM:

    @pamelabrown: You'll just have to be sad about the zen comment. I can't/won't apologize for the alarm the word raises in me. Zen-calm is not the image that will work most of the time - and especially at this time - in America. What Democrats need to display - and Americans want to see - is a little old fashioned feisty, in-your-face, smash mouth populism. They need to show a little hormones, a little spine, a little we're-not-gonna-sit-around-and-listen-to-this-crap-anymore spunk. It's been too long since Democrats have engaged in displaying such a public persona preferring instead to present a faux we're-above-these-tactics, lameass moderate, turn-the-other-cheek, fair-play wimpiness. All that gets Democrats is contempt from the part of the public it needs to convince and another punch in the mouth from a disrespecting Republican party that knows it won't pay a price for their outrageous statements and policy initiatives. There are reasons boneheaded right-wing think tanks can continue making inroads with their objectives. One is that there's very little pushback from the other side. People want to see fight. Otherwise they reason why would I fight for Democrats when they won't even fight for what they're supposed to believe. Democrats need to get out in front of issues - not play catch up. Especially when Democrats are correct and the public is with them.

    The kind of garbage being foisted on Obama from his political advisors - Plouffe and Daley - is failing Obama, will lead to his defeat, and lead to the further erosion of the country I want to live in. It's time for the Democrats - and Obama - to fight fire with fire.

    As for the chess game, our side has to wonder if Democrats will ever get around to it. After December, the budget battle, the debt ceiling disasters, and the known political strategies given to Obama by his political advisors, it is certainly not alarmist to wonder if there's any real liberal fight in these people.

  • Rick B on August 26, 2011 8:26 PM:

    I'm with the pro rope-a-dope guys above. Obama has done a superb job of forcing the Republicans to expose their true goals very blatantly. That's going to cause the Democrats to do the remarkably unusual action of organizing and working together to defeat the right-wingers. Rick Scott, Scott Walker and Mitch Daniels are all working for the Democrats whether they realize it or not.

    Obama does this through his cool responses. It infuriates the Republicans and they say and do stuff no intelligent politician is ever going to say and do. They see it as unifying their own base, but Hell - how much more unified can the Republicans get?

    Obama is NOT going to attack the Republicans this year and probably not until after the Republican nomination is completed. The election is going to be determined by the low-information undecided voters as usual and nothing that is said or done this far out will stick with them. Instead, Obama is letting the Republicans continuously expose their intentions. That is going to set the frame when he does go after them shortly before the 2012 election. By then Obama could describe the Republican challenger as the direct representative of Beelzebub and with the history the Republicans are now creating, everyone will believe it.

    And we political junkies are going to be holding our breath until the election because it will not look good until then. It's a real high wire act.

    @Goldilocks, I think the Obama team has already accomplished more than they expected to prior to 2012. Everything after 2010 was going to be policy dead space because of the election.

    By the way, Bloomberg news had a good article on the game theory prediction of the debt crisis decision by Obama. You have to assume that your opponent is sane and rational and has a logical goal in mind. Then you deal with him much as Obama did. But at the end the House Republicans proved they were NOT sane and rational. They were ready to trash the world economy for no gain on their part at all. The only possible game theory strategy at that point is to cave.

    What the article did not point out, though, was the political results for the Republicans of their willingness to trash the world economy. It shows in the polls already. Obama's problem now is to ensure that the voters in 2012 actually remember how they feel right now about the Republicans. I'd say that a Rick Perry - Marcus Rubio ticket would really maintain the public disgust with the Republicans, and I don't think they have a better ticket.

  • Doug on August 26, 2011 11:51 PM:

    "If he came at them with a truly Progressive vision, then at least we would stand a chance of negotiating to something reasonable." Mitch @ 5:24 PM
    The only person I've seen negotiating with President Obama has been Speaker Boehner, and his efforts were immediately denounced by his caucus. So, who's left to negotiate with?
    The President has NO leverage over the House Republican caucus, they will do what they want and that's that. It's been demonstrated by recent news reports that even their CONSTITUENTS don't have any leverage over them. What good, other than salving our egos, would it do to have President Obama begin ANY "negotiations" with the Republican/Teabaggers with his "progressive vision" of what should be done?
    The Republican/Teabaggers will just keep saying no. And each time President Obama is forced to retreat, that retreat is what will be headlined in print and on television: "President Forced to ..." or "President Fails in...". There are more, but I haven't the stomach to type them. Headlines such as those are what the Republican/Teabaggers are praying to see, anything to show the President as a "loser" and unable to do his job.
    A lot of posters write about how the Republican/Teabaggers are just bullies and President Obama just shouldn't give into them. Fine, then guess who gets blamed for the government shutting down? Or the economy crashing because the debt ceiling wasn't raised? Or anything else, for that matter, because if the President "draws a line in the sand" HE becomes as much a part of the problem as the Republican/Teabaggers.
    The President HAS "called out" those more interested in their party's success than the country's. He hasn't gone into detail or named names, but he's consistently decried extreme partisanship in DC. Those who keep any sort of an eye on what's happening in DC KNOW to whom he's referring and by NOT mentioning the Republican Party, he prevents the media from playing ITS favorite game of he said/he replied. What he hasn't done is focus on it because it won't do any good. At this time.
    I really think a lot of the frustrations that have developed among Democrats/progressives/liberals is due to the failure of the MSM to report the who, what, when, where, and why of events, especially that last. I'm not certain what's to be done about it, but I do know we can't expect President Obama, or ANY president, to also serve as a substitute for Walter Cronkite or Edward R. Murrow.
    He(she?) has enough on their plates as it is...

  • Emerald on August 27, 2011 1:37 AM:

    Let's review some evidence:

    Obama decides to run for president against the most potent Democratic political machine in decades, starts out 30 points behind . . . and wins. More than wins. He leads from pole to pole, never even one delegate behind, never even tied, from Iowa to the end.

    Obama decides to go for health care reform against all advice because it's impossible--and he pulls it off. We've been trying to get it for a century since Teddy Roosevelt proposed it. FDR, Truman, JFK, LBJ, Carter and Clinton all tried and couldn't do it. But Obama does it.

    In the face of the most determined opposition in the history of the nation--with filibusters on every piece of legislation and conservadems to contend with, Obama passes more progressive legislation in two years than Carter and Clinton combined did in twelve years.

    Obama waits until Trump brings about peak birtherism, with the media howling about it for weeks, and then produces the long-form certificate and humiliates Trump to his face in a stand-up comedy routine.

    While doing the former, and the comedy routine with complete smoothness and nary a hint of anything else going on, he's orchestrating the Bin Laden raid. And gets the bastard.

    And I'm leaving out the pirates, the fly, and several stealth victories.

    And some folks here think the guy's a wimp?

    I mean, seriously?

    Of course Pamelabrown is right. Part of throwing punches and of politics is t-t-t-timing.

    Obama has set the Rs up for one hell of knockout punch. But he won't throw it until the maximum possible right time.