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.