Last night, President Obama did what many in his party had longed asked of him: Tell the American people just how big a brat many Republican leaders are behaving like.
During his 15-minute speech on the fallout of the debt-ceiling negotiations, President Obama explained: “If you want a balanced approach to reducing the deficit, let your member of Congress know. If you believe we can solve this problem through compromise, send that message.”
Not surprisingly, voters couldn’t get to House Speaker John Boehner because his website wasn’t functioning — the perfect metaphor for his role in the debt-ceiling debate. Despite being so purportedly obsessed with eradicating the nation’s massive debt, Speaker Boehner and his Republican ilk seem more concerned about scoring political points against the president than preventing Ramen noodles becoming America’s official favorite meal.
With the deadline to reach an accord to allow the government to continue borrowing the money it needs to pay its debt fast approaching, both President Obama and Speaker Boehner took to the airwaves to tell the public at large why the lack of agreement is the other’s fault.
WATCH ‘ED SHOW’ COVERAGE OF THE PRESIDENT’S ADDRESS:
While most anxiously waits to see what happens to American’s credit rating after August 2, a few are panicking under the idea that regardless of the outcome the president may have already alienated an important voting bloc in his bid for reelection.
The paranoia comes on the heels of a new Pew survey that reveals that 52 percent of white voters now identify as Republicans versus 39 percent who claim to be Democrats. Back in 2008, 46 percent of white voters said they were Republicans compared to 44 calling themselves Democrats. The 7-percentage point advantage Democrats had for whites under 30 in 2008 is now an 11-point advantage for the GOP.
Republicans have also made traction with whites that make less than $30,000 per year. The numbers for the group are now 47 percent Republican versus 43 percent Democratic. In 2008 it was 52 percent Democrat and 37 percent Republican.
Republicans made small gains with black voters, too, bringing down black support for Democrats from 2008’s 88 percent to 86 percent in 2011. Look at the GOP go! Latinos are the only group Republicans loss fanfare with, losing six percentage points in three years. With these sorts of gains with white voters old and young, high unemployment, and continued Republican obstructionism designed to prevent President Obama from enacting policy that would surely boost his image, there are growing concerns about his chances of reelection.
And naturally, conspiracies abound as to why Obama is losing support among white voters. Leah Christian, a senior researcher at the Pew Center told Reuters that researchers had not detected evidence that Obama’s race had anything to do with Republicans picking up more support among white voters. It’s unrealistic to believe that the bulk of white voters have magically shifted their party affiliation over President Obama’s long known racial identity. That belief is as insulting to white voters collectively as it is to all of our better senses. That sort of surface level thinking deviates from what is a truth for voters black, white, and Oscar the Grouch green: President Obama has disappointed a lot of people.
I know, I know: I read his lengthy list of first year accomplishments. I’m well aware of the fact that even when he did have a Democratic majority in Congress, there were a couple of useless Blue Dog Democrats impeding domestic policies more advantageous to the country. At the same time, though, I also know there is a stark contrast between the ways Obama campaigned and the way he governs.
President Obama is a savvy legislator, pragmatic in thought and typically eager to utter the word “compromise” — perhaps sometimes too much. While the reality may be that compromise is a necessary evil, it tends to sometimes make Obama appear as a weak negotiator because he does so quite often. Or a Paul Krugman recently referred to him as, President Obama’s approval rating floundering at 43 percent for the week of July 18-24, tying the lowest weekly average of his administration.
Fortunately, Obama has begun to become more forceful in his rhetoric and negotiation techniques. He will need to continue this for 2012 because his fate won’t rest on race but the economy, stupid — and how the public feels he responded to it.