It’s exactly the kind of press conference President Obama would need the day before another sobering monthly jobs report. Hence, White House political hacks go into preemptive mode, eager to soften the blow of an unemployment report which will show, among all things, that the pace of recovery has been anemic – and, that the jobless rate in the country is stuck.
Administration officials, in a jittery spin, will push the narrative that some jobs were added during September. But, not enough to get it below 9%.
The President, however, seems intent on pushing a new narrative in lieu of an uphill battle for reelection in 2012. He must portray himself as the “underdog” backed into an impossible corner by belligerent Congressional Republicans who only want to see him lose next year. Pushing the jobs bill, if you read the language and get behind the tone of yesterday’s press conference is less about policy substance and more about campaign maneuvering. How do we know? Because the past few weeks since the fiery unveiling of the American Jobs Act before Congress have been different from past legislative pushes: he is talking less about bipartisanship and more about average constituents holding Hill Republicans accountable if they don’t pass it, and even throwing in Democrats for good measure who are giving him push back.
So, it’s the President vs. Congress. Pulling a page from Harry Truman, we see signs of a new political strategy in 2012 as the President will attempt to leverage his still high personality ratings in polls against the across-the-board low ratings for Congress as a political body. “If Congress does something, then I can’t run against a do-nothing Congress,” Obama said. “If Congress does nothing, then it’s not a matter of me running against them. I think the American people will run them out of town, because they are frustrated, and they know we need to do something big and something bold.”
“So here’s the bottom line: My expectation and hope is that everybody will vote for this jobs bill because it reflects those ideas that traditionally have been supported by both Democrats and Republicans. If it turns out that there are Republicans who are opposed to this bill, they need to explain to me — but more importantly, to their constituencies and the American people — why they’re opposed and what would they do,” the President added.
Look for more of this in the coming months. The President is finding a way to align himself with the street rather than working towards legislative goals on Capitol Hill.