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Did Obama Flip A Catch-22?

Obama has had a rough week already, and that\’s not even including his golf game.  His Democrat Governors are openly questioning the wisdom of his lawsuit against Arizona.  Normally safe Democrats are now in trouble.  And the worst, for our narcissistic President, now even Democrat-friendly poll agencies are showing Obama deep underwater amongst the public.

Part of Obama\’s problem is he\’s caught in a Catch-22 of his own rhetoric.  The economy, unemployment and overspending are dragging down his poll numbers which limits his ability to be an effective at pushing his agenda.  On the economy and unemployment he can\’t talk up even the smallest bits of good news, lest he appear out of touch to a hurting American public.  And he can\’t cut spending because his lofty promises of being everything to everyone during the campaign require massive amounts of it.  As long as this election is a referendum on his performance, Democrats chances of salvaging even a moral victory from 2010 are almost non-existent.  Which is why White House press secretary Robert Gibb\’s recent statements that Republicans could take the House is political strategy at it\’s best.

MR. GIBBS:  I think there\’s no doubt that there are a lot of seats that will be up, a lot of contested seats.  I think people are going to have a choice to make in the fall.  But I think there\’s no doubt there are enough seats in play that could cause Republicans to gain control.  There\’s no doubt about that. This will depend on strong campaigns by Democrats.

There are two things being done here.  First, and as subtle as a flying brick, this is a challenge to Democrats nationwide….quit sulking and get working.  You can\’t just accept a GOP wave, you\’re going to have to fight and make them earn it.  But more importantly this was a very clever move to reframe this next election.  By pushing the \”Republicans could be in control\” point, Gibbs is no longer making this about Obama.  Now this is a referendum on Republicans vs Democrats.  This is an attempt to exploit the one silver lining that Democrats have in established polling data.

If there are two things that the polling data has repeatedly shown it\’s that Obama\’s as popular as vuvuzela at a wedding ceremony.  But it\’s also shown that Republicans are almost as unpopular.  It\’s not that the public has fallen in love with the GOP, they\’ve called a hex on both houses.  The GOP hasn\’t done anything to deserve a electoral tidal wave, they\’re simply in the right place at the right time.  Obama and the Democrats overpromised and overreached and the GOP is there to benefit from the wreckage, but only because they are the least ugly of the stepsisters.

Making this election about Obama is a guaranteed loser for the Democrats.  But by making this about who the public trusts most, Democrats or Republicans, suddenly it\’s not so bad.  Sure Democrats are just as unpopular as Republicans, but their popularity falls within the margin of error on most polls.  In a political climate like this, campaigning to a draw is a unbelievable coup for the Democrats.  And if they can frame this election as who the public trusts more, that\’s effectively what they\’ll do.

Republicans have long been expected to retake the House and the talking heads have even begun to seriously speculate about the GOP retaking the Senate, which I\’ll touch on again tomorrow.  But if this ploy to reframe the election works, you can forget all that, and Democrats remain in control of both.

[Crossposted at True North]