Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Obama: It ain't worth a fig if it ain't got my sig

Steve Benen and/or Greg Sargent (I must confess, these two are so in sync their posts meld in my memory) have been fond of fretting that voters tend to hold the President chiefly responsible for the economy -- so when Congress stalls, the President gets the blame; when Republicans block Obama's agenda, he's seen as ineffectual. This lament was more intense before Obama got into the swing of regularly calling Congressional Republicans out for inaction, and before the economic news improved early this year, but it continues at intervals.

Today, Obama exploited the flip side of that equation.  If he gets the blame when Congress fails to act, he gets the credit when he successfully pressures Congress to act.  Never mind if that is collective Democratic pressure on Republicans to stop blocking a popular measure: let's roll with the impression that the big guy is in charge:

As you guys know, you can’t take anything for granted if you’re in Washington until my signature is actually on it,” Obama said. “So we’ve got to keep on making sure that the American people’s voices keep breaking through until this is absolutely, finally, completely done. Until you see me sign this thing, you’ve got to keep speaking up.”

“Until you see that photograph of me signing it at my desk,” Obama said before, joking, “make sure it’s verified, certified, if it’s not on the White House website, it hasn’t happened.”
In the summer, as the doomsday debt ceiling clock ticked down, Obama urged voters to call their Congressional reps and Senators and tell them to support a "balanced" deficit reduction bargain. Millions did, and Obama acceded to a tax-free deal, and the economy took a dip, and his poll numbers dived.  Through the fall, though, as he challenged Congress to pass the pieces of his jobs package, he stuck to the 'call Congress' tack -- and scored a win with the two-month payroll tax cut/unemployment benefits extension.  .

So the formula continues: blame Congress for not acting; take credit when they act; hope the economic winds back the push, and that the attacks on the do-nothing Congress are leavened by at least a slow drip of legislative wins.

Obama has come a long way since early September, when he dropped his taboo on calling out Republicans, including GOP leaders by name, instead of lambasting a generic Congress.   For six months, he's honed the mantra and sharpened the attack:
...do it now, without drama and without delay, no ideological sideshows to gum up the works, no self-inflicted wounds.

 “Do it before it’s too late and I will sign it right away,” he added.
Pulp 'em, bully boy.

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