Just nine months ago, Democrats were exuberant at the reelection of President Obama, hoping that it would officially be the final nail in the coffin of the Republican Party obstruction machine. There was no denying the 332-206 electoral shellacking that President gave to challenger Mitt Romney. But all of that seems like a very distant memory now. In less than a year, you get the feeling that Democrats in Congress are beginning to distance themselves from the president, citizens are losing faith in him, and he is running out of steam himself. So what’s behind this dramatic swing, and is it just a momentary lull before the president picks up steam again?
First and foremost, public confidence in President Obama is going down faster than the Titanic thanks to a combination of new and old scandals. Controversies from the NSA and the IRS come to light recently. The never-ending badgering on Benghazi by the GOP continues. The implementation of the Affordable Care Act has been partially delayed, leading to mixed reactions. And there’s a looming debt limit battle that the president must enter into. It’s like President Obama has been in a boxing match for the past nine months and has taken body blow after body blow and is barely on his last leg. It’s almost as if Democrats are in the same position. They are tired of constantly having to defend one problem after another that Republicans constantly throw up. It’s like arguing with a three year old; it’s pointless and tiring.
Anything that the president has tried to do this year has been much been squandered. He made a major push for gun control after the shooting at a Connecticut elementary school last December which was came to naught. He called for an immigration reform law, which passed the Senate but is being blocked in the House. Now he’s crossing the country pushing an economic plan that is not being met very warmly. Not to mention his recent comments on the Trayvon Martin case, in which the president said he saw himself in Trayvon…which even I thought was over the top.
Looking at all of this and combining it with the falling favorability numbers, it’s easy to understand why it appears the president is on a sinking ship. It’s easy to see why Congressional Democrats are trying to distance themselves from the White House and look forward to their reelections.
However, the irony is that America is actually still remarkably recovering on a monthly basis. The stock market is at record numbers. The housing market is recovered and expanding, with housing values rising. Unemployment continues to fall, down to 7.4%. The economy’s projected growth is at 3% for the year, which is promising. And, despite all the horrors of the Affordable Care Act, insurance premium rates are slowing, and begin to decline in many cases; plus a record number of Americans now have insurance. If you were to take everything about this paragraph away and just read this, you would think that the president should be ecstatic.
So where does President Obama go now? The next few years will be the make or break time for the president. The budget and debt ceiling fights that are looming will be tough, and the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (which almost entirely takes effect in 2014) will be huge points for the president to regain his favorability rating.
But above that, he needs to do something more. He needs to do something that will really bring Americans together. In the 2008 election, he said there were no red states or blue states, only the United States…but that has not been the case at all through his presidency. He needs a defining moment. A Kennedy moment if you will. President Kennedy vowed to have a man on the moon and Americans rallied behind it. President Obama can do it, but it’s going to take something special. It must be something that gets unanimous support across the board and brings Congressional Republicans and Democrats together. Getting them together is the first step to breaking the Republican recalcitrance that has halted any legislative progress. If the president can do this, it will not only bring his favorability ratings through the roof, but will pave the way for a more united country, something that we desperately need in this day and time. However if he can’t, then he may be pulling up to an empty negotiating table.