The president had a rough week. He was beset by tax-cheating appointees, hobbled by an incompetent press secretary, frustrated by a messy legislative fight over his stimulus plan, and suddenly deprived of the aura of infallibility which gave him a larger-than-life political presence. So how does he get his mojo back?
It is early, very early, in his presidency so there is no need to panic. But there is reason to reassess. His personal favorability numbers are declining and his stimulus bill is becoming less popular over time. Some of this is inevitable, but there is also the sign he is losing control and losing his grip.
Nicole Wallace, former McCain campaign advisor and an authority on bad weeks, writes that Obama had a really bad one:
Team Obama has a big problem on its hands. The White House has lost control of the press narrative. No single news cycle can make or break a president’s momentum. But getting trapped under a damaging narrative can take weeks to shake off. The bad Obama narrative was summed up by Sen. Lindsey Graham today: “If this is the change we all can believe in, then Americans’ best days are behind them.”
Before a bad week turns into a bad month or a bad year, Obama and his advisors might consider some simple measures to help regain the high ground. We offer ten suggestions.
First, never, ever let Nancy Pelosi carry the ball for the administration. Her contempt for bipartisanship, political extremism, and inability to defend her own handiwork make her politically toxic. From here on out President Obama would do well to deliver the legislation he wants, and position himself as a force for moderation, not the lackey of the speaker. And he might help his image as a consensus-builder by having a “Sister Nancy” moment in which he slaps down her brand of left-wing partisanship.
Second, fire Robert Gibbs. He’s embarrassing, cringe-inducing, really. And he’s done the impossible, which is to annoy the mainstream media. Find a tax problem. Promote him. Anything. Just send him on his way.