Friday, January 27, 2012

Not A Bad Week, All In All

President Obama, now in campaign mode, had a pretty good week, all things considered. His State of the Union address struck a populist note, thereby mollifying some of his base. He's continued that populism as he's toured several states and the messages seem to have been well-received. Even the rather strange incident on the tarmac with Arizona Governor Jan Brewer appears to have worked in his favor, although David Horsey suggests in his latest column that Brewer got in her licks as well. She may have indeed scored points with her conservative constituents, but as Horsey's cartoon illustrates, she did come across as a bit of a harridan to the rest of us.

Horsey does note one important thing about that incident: the days of the imperial presidency are over.

The time is long passed when U.S. presidents could expect much deference from anyone, especially from a member of the opposition party. Between appearances with Jay Leno and Oprah Winfrey and the general nastiness of partisan politics these days, the presidency has lost much of its aura of majesty. Presidents now are more like British prime ministers -- open to confrontation, even during an airport greeting.

I think Horsey is right in that respect, especially during an election year. Will that work against the president? At this point, I doubt it, especially since the Republican candidates for his job are making things ever so much easier for him, as Doyle McManus points out his brief response to last night's GOP debate in Florida:

Gingrich seemed a little hesitant to climb into the ring. Asked about his statement earlier this week that Romney “lives in a world of Swiss bank accounts and Cayman Island bank accounts,” the former House speaker said the charge didn’t merit repeating in the solemn dignity of a CNN debate.

That gave Romney an opening. “Wouldn’t it be nice if people didn’t make accusations someplace else that they weren’t willing to defend here?” he asked. OK, Gingrich replied, have it your way. “I don’t know of any American president who had a Swiss bank account,” he said.

The winner? There wasn’t one -- not onstage, at least. Rick Santorum turned in a good performance, criticizing both Romney and Gingrich for their past support of government-mandated health insurance, but he’s running a very distant third in Florida. Ron Paul slammed both front-runners, too, but he’s running fourth. The polls in Florida show Romney and Gingrich neck and neck. If anyone won Thursday evening, it may have been Barack Obama.

Like I said, for President Obama it was not a bad week, all in all. Of course, November is still a little over nine months away.

That reminds me: I need to pick up some more popcorn.



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