By A. B. Stoddard - 08/05/09 05:55 PM EDT
Sure, it didn’t rain on his nomination speech held outdoors in Denver. Though the charms once stuffed in the candidate’s pocket — a bracelet belonging to a soldier serving in Iraq, a gambler’s lucky chit and figurines of monkey gods and the Madonna and child, may have helped Obama win the job, they can’t help him now. Our new president is tasked with leading America through the worst times a majority of us have ever known. That swine flu threatens to hit roughly 40 percent of the population in the coming months is patty-cake compared to what things will be like once benefits run out for more than a million jobless Americans at year’s end and job loss completes its downward spiral years from now.
Amid the struggle to keep existing programs afloat, little response from the stimulus program and the nation poised to hit 10 percent unemployment, Obama is attempting to pass his signature promise of healthcare reform. Though it is no longer popular, with 72 percent of Americans not believing it will be deficit-neutral, members of Obama’s party are attempting to sell reform to constituents at home while being assaulted by angry mobs.
This week began with pushback, bright and early on Monday morning, from the White House press operation against comments Obama’s own top economic advisers made on Sunday shows about nothing being off the table when it comes to eventually tackling deficits. The emergency clarification was made — that Obama won’t raise taxes on the middle class whatsoever — lest the unruly protesters board buses for the nation’s capital to hurl things onto the White House lawn.
On Tuesday Obama celebrated his 48th birthday by having Democratic senators to lunch at the White House, begging them to hang together on healthcare, while former President Bill Clinton was securing the pardon of two jailed American journalists from North Korea. It was more than ironic that as Obama flew to Elkhart, Ind., Wednesday to tout the effects of the recovery program to residents dealing with 17 percent unemployment, a triumphant reunion was unfolding with the two women and their families at an airport in California. The stars of the show were President Clinton and his partner from the good old days of creating more than 22 million new jobs, former Vice President Al Gore.
Clearly, Obama’s luck ran out on Inauguration Day. Happy birthday, Mr. President. Better luck next year.
Stoddard is an associate editor of The Hill.