Bad job numbers, the president’s not so “fine” gaffe, a failed recall attempt in Wisconsin, a plethora of White House scandals – and to top it all off, Mitt Romney, the guy who two months ago elicited no more than a deferential shrug from the average Republican, out-fundraised the Obama campaign by over $16 million in May. Altogether, the news is daunting to Democrats and harmful to the president’s re-election effort.
And the Democrats have taken notice. In the last few days, almost as if the party has reached a collective “panic” threshold, a number of high ranking Democratic strategists like James Carville, Stanley Greenberg, and a small army of anonymous Democrat lawmakers too scared of backlash to name themselves, are expressing their problems with the president’s campaign. They claim president’s message of fairness and equality doesn’t resonate with the American people. In preemptive defense to rebuttal, they then argue his campaign staff is too insular. They aren’t willing to listen to any outside opinions or change strategy, even when theirs has proven totally ineffective. As if they’re idiots.
Currently, the bad press is just that, a whirlwind of information that hasn’t yet settled. However, if the Democrats aren’t careful, the recent news has the potential to become much more: The Democrats’ very own bloodbath. With activists all around the party starting to question the president’s campaign, one week of bad press could influence the campaign for many more weeks, if not until the end of the cycle.
Now, let’s take a deep breath everyone. This is not Armageddon. No, employment is not good, and no, the president didn’t do a good job expressing it. The scandals are obviously harmful too, and the Wisconsin recall doesn’t help the party. But take a step back and look at the bigger picture.
In the last fifty years, the unemployment rate has been above 8 percent three times. The fact that the president is even in this race, let alone that he has led it, is remarkable. History tells us that when the economy is this bad, presidents don’t get re-elected. In spite of that, President Obama has maintained a lead over Romney. Clearly, he’s done something right. The president has passed historic legislation (healthcare, fair-pay); it’s time he earned a little slack from his own party.
That’s not to say the president’s strategy can’t be criticized. Nobody is perfect (he’s not actually the messiah) including the campaign and those who run it. Democrats should voice their opinions and concerns, but they should do it in private. In poker, you don’t go all in and then tell the other guy you’ve got nothing (unless you’re doing some crazy reverse-psychology). You play your hand with a straight face. The Democrats only make themselves vulnerable by showing such weakness and dissent publicly. In fact, if there is any time not to show weakness, it is when you are weakest. Please, Mr. Carville, I love to watch you on Meet the Press for half an hour, but not if it’s going to result in four lousy years.
So to all of the Obama supporters checking Politico every 30 minutes, take a breath. It’s going to be okay. And even if you don’t buy any of these arguments, remember that the average American doesn’t care nearly as much as you do. They’re busy at work (at least 91.8 percent of them), and don’t have time to obsess over the political minutia, or even macrotia (that is a word). To the average American, the names Obama, Romney, Holder, Walker, Bryson, etc. don’t pop off of the television set anymore. If the president wants to do anything more than win, though, if he wants to match the inspiration of his baby blue lawn signs, he better hope to change that.