By Cheri Jacobus - 05/27/10 09:23 PM EDT
Presidential petulance was on full display this week.
When 56 percent of the American people disapprove of the job you are doing, you’ve got a problem. When you’re the president of the United States and 56 percent of the American people disapprove of your job performance, you’ve got an enormous problem.
When almost every candidate you throw your presidential support behind loses, and your problem appears to be spreading faster than germs in a preschool, a bit of political soul-searching may in order. And it’s hard to ignore that creeping sense your presidency is about to come under siege by a potentially explosive scandal surrounding a White House job offer to a certain Pennsylvania Democratic congressman as a bribe to drop his Senate primary bid against a certain Pennsylvania Democratic senator.
As oil continues to gush into the Gulf of Mexico, making the BP environmental catastrophe Obama’s own Hurricane Katrina, he’s fleeing Washington to escape home to Chicago for a few days — perhaps to briefly fantasize that he still lives there, wishing he’d never scratched that 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. itch.
Obama is facing presidential-sized problems, presidential-sized failures, and presidential-sized, well-deserved criticism. He is weak, but hardly humbled. In a meeting this week with Senate Republicans, a persnickety Obama attempted to blame them for his failures, complaining he’d tried to work on a bipartisan basis, and that Republicans rejected his olive branch.
Sen. Olympia Snow (R-Maine) told the press, “Their [the White House’s] bipartisanship generally consists of ‘Can we have your vote for our bill?’ ” Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) expressed wariness in working with Obama after initially attempting compromise on key issues. And Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) infamous temper erupted as he took the president to task for misrepresenting the new Arizona illegal-immigration law and sending aides out to trash the law, without even reading it.
With three of his top legislative priorities passing mostly along party lines with a notable lack of concessions to the GOP, Obama asking Republicans for favors is jaw-droppingly brazen. But ask he did. After first heaping blame on the GOP for his own difficulties, in the very next breath Obama urged Republican senators to please quickly confirm his Supreme Court nominee, Elena Kagan, despite the fact they have yet to receive information they’ve requested to fulfill their advise-and-consent obligation. He also insisted on GOP cooperation on ratifying the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty and passing more economic “stimulus” — all to make his job a little easier.
Unfortunately for the president, Senate Republicans have been smacked over the head with the olive branch too many times, so the dearth of trust should come as no surprise. Obama’s “my way or the highway” approach truly is stinking up the joint.
Only a year and a half into his presidency, the man who once enjoyed international rock-star status is in dire need of a tutorial on how to win friends and influence people.
Jacobus, president of Capitol Strategies PR, has managed congressional campaigns, worked on Capitol Hill and is an adjunct professor at George Washington University’s Graduate School of Political Management. She appears on CNN, MSNBC and FOX News as a GOP strategist.