By Dave Andrusko
The sub-headline was innocuous—“Obama seeks reshaped image for 2012 run”—but by the time you finish Susan Page’s page one story, Obama sounds more like a candidate whose 2008 image is in tatters than someone whose ‘brand” can be salvaged by a mere “refurbishing.” The headline is more revealing, “What comes after hope?”
Page begins her account in today’s USA Today, “The Obama Brand in 2008 was pretty simple: Hope and change. Then things got complicated.” Indeed! Her portrait of a floundering (my description] presidency, growing out of recent USA Today/Gallup surveys, illustrates most of the brush strokes pro-life Republican opponents of Obama will use over the next sixteen months.
First, some of the grim details—grim for the Obama campaign.
· “In the three-day rolling average posted Sunday, just over a month after bin Laden was killed, Obama’s approval rating had ebbed to 47%,”
Page writes. Obama’s approval on the economy has sunk to a “dismal 37%.”
· By a 51% to 47% margin, Americans say Obama does not deserve re-election.
· Only 46% answered yes to the question “Do you agree with Obama on the issues that matter most to you?”
· In combined Gallup polls taken in May Obama’s approval was 38% among independents, 42% among whites, and 44% among seniors.
· To take just one more result: “Just 22% were satisfied with the way things are going in the United States,” Page writes. “That is significantly more negative than the nation’s mood at this point in the first terms of the past four presidents who managed to win re-election (Nixon, Reagan, Clinton and George W. Bush).”
Although re-election campaign officials quoted in the story reject the ‘branding” metaphor, clearly that is what Obama is attempting to do. So what DOES come after “hope”?
Well, one response is to act as if Obama hasn’t been President. Page writes, “In a cheer-leading video sent to the president’s supporters, Obama campaign manager Jim Messina declared: “We ought not to act like an incumbent. We ought to act like an insurgent campaign.” Since all voters, by definition, are adults, that’s a bit of a stretch.
Another is to attempt to extend the “change” time frame past the first four years, aka, don’t expect miracles overnight. Democratic consultant Jenny Backus, who had worked in the administration on health care, tells Page, “They’ve started a little bit to sell the notion he’s done what he said he would do, and he’s done it slowly and methodically.” She adds that Obama “always has a long view on things, and he’s always taken his time to make his case.” That will be an even harder sell.
There is only one passing reference to ObamaCare, an anchor around the President’s ankles: “President Obama’s signature health care law to expand insurance coverage doesn’t command majority support more than a year after it was signed into law.”
Truth be told that albatross sank many a Democratic candidate in the 2010 off-year election. Pro-lifers are more determined than ever to elect a Congress and a President who will repeal and rewrite a health care “reform” measure that is suffused with provisions that promote abortion and rationing.
The graphic that accompanies Page story is the famous Obama “Hope” poster designed by artist Shepard Fairey. Only in this rendition it is beginning to peal from the top down to reveal a list of the realities of governing which are taking their toll.
What it fails to make clear is that a poster is a perfect metaphor for a candidate who was [and remains] all sizzle and no steak.