Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Dog Days of Summer

Seems the only one who has any time for President Obama these days is his dog Bo.  Obama has become persona non grata, which isn't all that unusual for a president midway through his second term, but he has become almost invisible in the public eye.  It seems fellow Democratic Congresspersons would rather have Elizabeth Warren or Bill Clinton campaigning with him than the President, who has reached a very low point in his popularity.

It is hard to understand where all this animus comes from.  He sits at about a 42 per cent approval rating, depending on which poll you subscribe to.  One poll even gives Romney a 9-point edge over the President if an election were held today.  Not like Romney has done anything of note, but he's been getting a lot of favorable press, including a photo album of his summer vacation with his grandkids.  The bad news for Rombo is that if an election were held today, he would lose to Hillary Clinton by a whopping 13 points, which means the fatigue is mostly over Obama, not wanting to give Romney a second, I mean third chance.

Obama hasn't had very many good photo ops recently.  Events abroad seem to be conspiring against him, notably in Israel.  Concerns continued to be expressed over the economy and the perceived weak job market that is generating enough high-pay jobs.  Over half of Americans make $34,000 or less, which means they barely get by from day to day, much less save toward retirement.  I whopping 25 per cent live at or below the poverty line.  Both sides have been harping on these numbers all summer long.  Democrats claim Republicans have stalled jobs bills, while the Republicans claim Obama has failed to deliver on his promises.

It's not like the President can do much about these things.  The economy is driven by a large number of factors, varying sharply from state to state.  Republican governors like to claim they have boosted their individual state economies, but the figures don't vary much from the national average in terms of the types of jobs being created -- mostly low end jobs.  This is why you see a national outcry to raise the minimum wage, which some states have done, notably Washington which raised it to $9.32 per hour, and Seattle which raised it to $15 per hour, the highest in the country.

Obama did raise the minimum wage for federal employees to $10.10 per hour, which was subsequently blocked by Senate Republicans.  He was however able to raise wages for contract workers by executive order.  That damn president!

You would think these bold executive actions would sit well with the public, but apparently not.  Americans seem to want Obama to work with Congress even though most of these efforts have proved futile the past 3+ years the Republicans have controlled the House.  In fact, the Republicans even appear to work against each other as witnessed on an immigration reform bill that passed the Senate with Republican support, but stalled in the House due to the Tea Party coalition.  Having failed to offer anything on immigration, Congress promptly took a holiday for the rest of the summer, leaving Obama to wrestle with the immigration crisis on his own.

I would think most Americans would recognize that the problem resides mainly in a recalcitrant Republican Party that has steadfastly refused to work with the President on anything since day one.  Yet, Nate Silver (the reigning guru of prognostications) predicts the Republicans have a 60% chance to take the Senate this Fall, giving them full control of Congress.  What then?

Having a presidential recall election is not an option, so Grandpa Romney can continue to enjoy his summer with the kids.  Even if the Republicans were to take the Senate they wouldn't have the two-thirds majority necessary to approve a House impeachment, so they would be stuck with Obama until 2016, still exercising executive authority much to their chagrin.

A bold idea would be for Obama to take his case directly to the people these remaining days of summer, pointing out what a pile of turds Republicans are and letting it be known that if Americans want action then they better vote Democratic this November.  Of course, he can find different language to make his case, but he does need to go on the campaign trail whether fellow Democrats want him to or not.  He can take Bo with him if need be.  Maybe this would warm up the electorate.

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