White House Cheat Sheet: Tick, Tick, Tick
President Obama continues to ride high in polls but his call for patience from the American public even as the economy continues to falter opens the possibility of far tougher days to come for his administration.
On Tuesday, Obama insisted that he paid little attention to the "day-to-day gyrations of the stock market" -- words echoed repeatedly hours later by White House press secretary Robert Gibbs during his daily press briefing.
"I think the American people understand we didn't get into this problem in the beginning of February," Gibbs said from the podium. "So we're not likely to get out of this problem by the end of March."
That rhetoric is a re-stating of Obama's dual-pronged approach on the economy since taking office on Jan. 20. The first element of that strategy is to make clear that the current fiscal crisis gripping the country was "inherited" by Obama; the second is to buy time to let his major policy moves -- the $787 billion stimulus package, the bank bailout, the home foreclosure legislation -- begin to have their intended effect.
A new NBC/Wall Street Journal survey out last night suggests the American people are willing to give the president some time. Asked which party they most trust to guide the country out of its economic turmoil, 48 percent said Democrats while just 20 percent named Republicans. In the same survey, six in ten voters expressed approval for the job Obama has done to date.
And yet, warning signals persist. Earlier this week the Dow Jones Average dipped below 6,800 for the first time in more than a decade and CNBC analyst Jim Cramer, a widely respected voice on financial markets, has been vocal of late in his criticism of Obama's plan -- calling it a "radical agenda" during an interview Tuesday morning on the "Today Show."
Relying on the patience of the American public is a risky strategy for Obama although, given the size and quantity of the problems in the domestic and international economy, it may be the only approach open to him.
Voters tend to be willing to wait and see how things will turn out only when the atmospherics around them are neutral or positive; when things take a turn for the worse an element of panic sets in and a demand for immediate solutions become paramount.
The simple truth for Obama is that there are no easy answers on fixing the economy. (If there were, some smart person of some partisan stripe already would have thought of it.) He must use his significant personal political capital to delay judgment about the state and future of the economy or risk a public that is widely supportive of him quickly turning in the other direction as fears for their future well being take precedence.
Wednesday Must-Reads: We read the news so you don't have too. (Or at least the five most important news stories of the day.)
1. Just four years after Republicans held control of the White House, the Senate and the House, the party is badly outnumbered in Congress and playing catch-up against the far more sophisticated operation of President Obama. Steve Holland of Reuters looks at just how far GOPers still have to go.
2. New pricetag for bank bailout? Try seven hundred billion dollars, according to Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner.
3. NPR goes in-depth on the looming GOP primary between Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison and what it means for the future of Republican politics in the Lone Star State. (The Fix ranks this as the best primary in the country in our most recent Line.)
4. Is Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele running out of do-overs?
5. Why the identity of the next Kansas lieutenant governor could matter -- big time.
Quigley's Coming to Congress: Cook County Commissioner Mike Quigley won a crowded Democratic primary yesterday in the special election race to replace White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel. A few winners and losers from the vote. Winners: 1) Outsiders -- Quigley's two main opponents were state legislators 2) John Anzalone/Pete Giangreco/Saul Shorr -- The pollster, mail guy and media consultant for Quigley chalk up a win in a contested primary. The campaign went with a mail-heavy (15 different pieces) strategy in a district where television is costly. It worked. Losers: 1) Emily's List: The massive fundraising and consulting conglomerate hasn't had much luck in this seat. After unsuccessfully backing then state Rep. Nancy Kaszak in 2002, the List came up short again last night with their support of state Rep. Sara Feingenholtz.
Paterson Plummets: New York Gov. David Paterson's (D) chances at winning a full term in 2010 are looking more and more grave as a new Marist poll shows the Empire State chief executive in disastrous shape. Roughly one-quarter of New Yorkers rated Paterson as doing an excellent or good job while 71 percent of gave him only fair/poor scores. Paterson's approval rating is lower than any governor in the last three decades of Marist polling, a time frame that includes the disgraced Gov. Elliot Spitzer. More troubling for Democrats, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R), who continues to mull the race, leads Paterson 53 percent to 38 percent. If Paterson's numbers don't improve soon, expect the state and national party to try and push him out the door in favor of state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo whose popularity has soared of late. The Marist survey showed more than seven in ten New Yorkers saying Cuomo was doing an excellent/good job in office.
Whither Huck?: Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, once the darling of national politics, has watched his star fade of late as other new, fresher faces have emerged. Huckabee continues to host a weekly show on Fox News Channel but he was an almost non-presence at the Conservative Political Action Conference last weekend -- finishing sixth in the straw poll balloting with just seven percent support. Huckabee's problem for 2012 is two-fold: first, his shtick (straight talking southerner who understands average people) may be wearing thin, and, second, he is no longer the new/hot story -- replaced by Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford among others.
A Reid Challenger Drops: Former Nevada Rep. Jon Porter (R) has signed on as the director of public policy for the D.C. office of the law firm Akerman Senterfitt. Porter, who won the swing 3rd district in 2002, was widely regarded as the strongest potential challenger to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) in 2010 but was ousted by now Rep. Dina Titus (with a major assist from Reid) last November. National Republicans are now waiting on a decision from Rep. Dean Heller but don't expect an announcement any time soon. Given Reid's middling numbers and the distaste with which he is held among the GOP base, it's hard to imagine that Republicans won't find someone serious to take him on. But, that candidate hasn't emerged yet.
Steelman Comes to Washington: Sarah Steelman, the former Missouri Treasurer and 2008 gubernatorial candidate, is coming to Washington next week to discuss the possibility of challenging Rep. Roy Blunt in the Republican Senate primary in 2010. Steelman tells the Fix via email that she has already met with National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn (Texas) about her candidacy and that he has pledged to her to be "neutral" in a primary if she decides to run. What "neutral" means remains to be seen. Establishment Republicans believe Blunt is their best candidate but Steelman has an outsider appeal, personal money and might line up just as well (if not better) in a general election against Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan (D).
Twitter Time: Mark McKinnon, a Fix Friend, may think Twitter is dead but we like it just fine thank you very much. And so, you can imagine our consternation when we realized Ana Marie Cox, the queen of Twitter, has 116,693 more people following her tweets than the ole Fix. Come on people! Can we shrink her margin to under six digits? "The Fix" is our everyday feed; "TheHyperFix" is our live twitter vehicle.
Say What?: "It is a bipartisan disease, and we do not seem to get it." -- Arizona Sen. John McCain (R) on the illness known as earmarks during an interview with Fox Business Network's Neil Cavuto.
March 4, 2009; 6:04 AM ET
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