President Obama is looking for the reset button. A year into his presidency, he's seen his approval rating plummet from 76 to 46; health-care legislation unravel; and upstart Republican Scott Brown usurp a "safe" Democratic senate seat in the Massachusetts upset. Obama, once heralded as a "political messiah," is drowning in a sea of blame. Will his abrupt decision to bring back 2008 campaign manager David Plouffe, to reshape his political strategy and communications, be enough to reboot his presidency, or is Obama already a lame duck? (Watch a CBS report about Obama's attempt to stage a comeback)
A new narrative is exactly what Obama needs: The president probably isn't going to change, says Mark McKinnon in The Daily Beast. But bringing on David Plouffe to take charge of his political communications — while "total bulls**t" — "will totally work" in terms of getting Obama better press. That's because the Washington press corps will see it as a "white flag" of contrition from Obama, and that's enough to "reset the story."
"Can Plouffe save Obama's bacon?"
This is a tone-deaf move: Bad idea, says Dan Bartlett, a former advisor to George W. Bush, as quoted in CBS News. The Democrats' "big answer to the big defeat in Massachusetts was 'We need more politics, we're bringing back...David Plouffe.'" Obama isn't grasping that this is a "substantive problem," not a political problem. That's a mistake. The public wants less politics, not more.
"Rebooting the White House's Agenda"
Obama needs to lead, not spin: Obama's post-Massachusetts "political obituaries were ludicrously premature," says Frank Rich in The New York Times, but he's "deluding himself" if he thinks he can continue without big changes. Obama's got to stop "frittering away his political capital" on vague sound bites and show some leadership fast — taking on Wall Street with more than "small symbolic gestures" would be a good start."
"After the Massachusetts Massacre"
It's too late—he's already lost the middle: "I am a registered independent" who voted for Obama, says Jill Dorson in RealClearPolitics, "and for that, I am sorry." His promised "change" was apparently just "a euphemism for 'big government,'" and he lost my faith by following "Bush's lead in bailing out banks, auto makers, insurance companies," while leaving "the rest of us to fail." I'm not falling for the Obama "hoopla" again in 2012, and I'm not alone.
"Why I regret voting for President Obama"
Don’t underestimate the Plouffe effect: "Plouffe is widely regarded within Obama's inner circle as simply the best-organized, most meticulous planner the party has," says Chris Cillizza in The Washington Post. And he may well be "the perfect person to avoid a repeat of Massachusetts," but Plouffe can't stop the real bleeding: "the flight of independents" from Obama's base.
"What David Plouffe can do (and what he can't)"
SEE MORE OF THE WEEK'S LATEST OBAMA COVERAGE:
• Obama vs. your 401(k)
• Obama's 'Kill the Gays' dilemma
• Health care outcome will define Obama
• Obama: More divisive than Bush?
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- This is why you can't trust the NSA. Ever.
- Half the world's population lives in these 6 countries
- How a degree from Duke University dashed my dreams of buying a home
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- Innocent before proven guilty? The bizarre bipartisan rush to clear Rick Perry
- Why you should stop believing in evolution
- The real-life events that inspired Game of Thrones' Red Wedding
- This 1,600-year-old Viking war game is still awesome
- What Keeping Up with the Kardashians can teach America about interracial marriage
- 7 grammar rules you really should pay attention to
Subscribe to the Week