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Obama’s Faulty Truman-Roosevelt Model

I wanted make sure you were aware of this interesting piece by Karl Rove on why President Obama’s Give ’em Hell reelection plan might not work.

The piece is behind the paywall over there at the Wall Street Journal. Don’t worry, I’ve subscribed for you. I’ll post just enough to give you the flavor without providing Rupert Murdoch an excuse to sue me.

Actually, he can sue me. I’ll take the publicity.

Anyway, word is that Obama is trying to meld Harry S. Truman’s Do-Nothing Congress approach with Franklin Roosevelt’s combative 1936 drive to ride a wave of outrage back into the Oval Office next year.

But Rove says times are different, see, and Obama is not Harry Truman or Franklin Roosevelt.

For one thing, a year out from the 1948 election, Gallup measured Mr. Truman’s job approval at 54%, whereas Mr. Obama’s is 43%—substantially lower than any president who has won re-election. (Gallup wasn’t yet polling job approval in 1935, the year before FDR’s landslide re-election win, but it’s reasonable to assume he was far more popular than Mr. Obama is at the same point in his presidency.)

Unemployment was at 7.8% when Mr. Obama took office. It’s 9% today and is forecast to remain there through 2012. For FDR, unemployment was 17% in 1936—very high, but down from 20% the year before and 25% at its peak in 1933. In 1948, unemployment was 3.7% when Truman won.

What’s more, the economy was blossoming in 1936 and surging in 1948. Ain’t gonna happen next year.

And then there’s the personality issue. That is, Truman had it, and Obama lacks it. Nor has Obama exactly lifted up and united the nation, à la Roosevelt. Obama might say, “The only thing to fear is . . . Republicans.”

Obama’s “Do-Nothing” theme is attenuated just a bit by the very inconvenient matter that THE SENATE IS DEMOCRATIC AND CAN’T EVEN PASS A BUDGET.

Oh, and no Republican is going to emulate the Dewey “run the clock out” strategy.

Obama will certainly be able to divide the country and trumpet outrage. But his horn will sound a lesser note than those whose tune he’s trying to steal.

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13 Responses to Obama’s Faulty Truman-Roosevelt Model

  1. Great post. I have a strange sense of optimism about the 2012 election. I think that most moderate Americans (and maybe a few liberal ones) either have or will soon call BS on Obama’s more-of-the-same divisive politics and boot him.

    The questions is whether the Republicans can come up with a Leader, as in with a capital L. If they do, we’re back on track and can dig ourselves out of the last couple of decades.

  2. Strategy aside, Ubama knows that 30 – 40% of the population will vote for him for a variety of reasons – no change in strategy by Ubama or the GOP nominee will alter that. The danger is, and has always been, the intellectually and emotionally disengaged “swing voter,” who, if the mood hit them, I’m sure would vote for toast if they thought that was a good idea. If they know anything of politics, it’s what they hear on the MSM evening when their attention breaks from reading People Magazine or when they happen to land on a radio station that isn’t playing Lady Gaga or whoever is popular today.

    It’s no surprise to anyone that Ubama appeals to the intellectually shallow or inferior. The challenge the GOP will have is to dumb down their message enough for these voting age children, who are disengaged enough to swallow the “I’m Harry Truman and they are the Do-Nothing Congress” meme.

  3. At least Rove knows his history. No one in this Administration (ncluding the Commander and Chief and Campaigner) seems to know or understand American history.

  4. MrRove is hardly an objective observer of politics, but his point is well stated that not only the mood of the country is different, and the personality of the Presidents couldn’t be more different.
    The rising chorus coming from the right and the left is a plea to MrObama to tone down the rhetoric of class warfare. These are dangerous times; our enemies are many and well funded, well armed, and we need all Americans to be as one in purpose, If we can’t trust our elected officials to keep the peace here in our own country, then we don’t have any trust at all in their leadership and their belief in the rule of law.

    Yesterday, MrO told a group of donors that his children will have a successful future, even if America doesn’t. No President should ever utter such negative thoughts or cause his constituents to doubt his faith in the American future. His ‘tax the rich’ speeches are implying that the wealth holders are responsible for the dire economics that have devastated millions of Americans and their lives will somehow be enriched if only the wealthy would “pay their fair share”. There will be trouble in our streets next year and the blame will fall to MrObama and the Dems.

    • Rove may not be objective, but he is savvy.
      As for Obama’s children having a successful future, it is because they are in the 1% he pretends to despise, yet loves their money and he and Moochelle are so wannabes.

      Hey, maybe after the Kardashian craze is over, and he is out of office, could their be a reality show “The Obama’s” or maybe just “Real Housewives of Chicago” so Moochelle can be a reality TV star?

  5. I reading a bio of Truman now. I really doubt Obama can channel Harry’s toughness. Also bad for Obama: This Do-nothing Congress has C-Span.
    Obama should be careful with the name calling. There is such a thing as a Do-nothing Commander and Chief.

  6. It’s still hard to believe we’re watching a horse race and the gate call hasn’t even been sounded yet. If at this point in 1991 you’d told me to watch the governor of Arkansas, I’d have laughed at you.

  7. Gotta give Karl credit. He is a very well read political operative. Stopped listening to his so-called fair and balanced evaluation of the candidates once I figured out he was shilling for Romney. He is relentlessly critical of every little misstep made by one of the conservative candidates, although he never says anything negative about Romney. He’s just another member of the political ruling class who puts party ahead of country. None of the political ruling class realize how much danger this country is in.

    • I have said often that Karl’s 15 mins is long up…but strangely he never leaves. When did Obama say my kids are great, but yours are in trouble? Is the man mad? And just going to Sidwell and then of course Harvard or Yale does not insure OK-ness… Raising kids is sort of a crapshoot no matter how much money you have. They have a way of pursuing their own destiny, not the one you may map out.

      • I usually like to leave the kids out of it–but Chelsea, who used to read scripture sometimes at our church, seems like a very nice woman, had all the best, but her marriage is apparently sort of off or gone and the job she got was from cronies at MSNBC…despite all…You just never know how the old cookie will disintegrate.

  8. Keith, I appreciate the excerpts of Rove’s article, but FYI – even though the Wall Street Journal makes the full article available only to paid subscribers, Rove always has the entire piece at his website:

    http://www.rove.com/

    I subscribe to Rove’s email list, so I get an email every Thursday with part of the article and the link to the full article at his site.

    So, you could probably skip the WSJ and just link to Rove’s site so your readers can read the entire piece. (No, I do not work for Rove or have any affiliation with him at all, ha ha).