Presidents can’t afford the luxury of getting depressed, so here we have Mr. Audacity of Hope right after the Scott Brown newsshock being handed a football helmet in a sports equipment factory and telling crowds that he can handle the pummeling.
“So long as I have some breath in me,” he vows in an upbeat Ohio talk using “fight” as a mantra, “so long as I have the privilege of serving as your president, I will not stop fighting for you. I will take my lumps. But I won’t stop fighting.”
In a run of media misfortunes from the “systemic failure” to detect a would-be airline bomber to a surge of voter anger in the contest for Ted Kennedy’s seat, the media narrative and opinion polls have been running downhill for Barack Obama but, with the State of the Union coming next week, the stage is set to mount a comeback for a president whose resilience is a strong point.
Unlike LBJ after the country turned against the Vietnam War, Nixon during Watergate and Jimmy Carter in his “national malaise” funk, Obama has shown he is unlikely to let a run of setbacks get him down, and he seems to have enough political momentum to buoy him.
In a new Gallup Poll showing the majority of Americans want to slow down health care reform, he nonetheless retains considerable personal confidence. “Given Obama’s job approval rating of roughly 50 per cent,” Gallup says, “clearly some Americans who express disappointment with the president’s lack of progress still generally approve of the job he is doing.”
With this residue of good will after a rocky first year, the President’s comeback will require substance as well as style, action beyond rhetoric, and there are encouraging signs that he is making the needed changes.
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