Many Americans have soured on President Obama, judging by his flagging approval poll numbers, but the nation's opinion of Congress is far worse. While just 39 percent approved of the president in a recent survey, Gallup says only 13 percent of Americans approve of the job Congress is doing, a tie for the lowest mark recorded since the pollster began tracking such matters in 1974. Will the public's disappointment with the politicians on Capitol Hill, including the Republicans who control the House, shield Obama from a voter backlash in 2012?
Yes, disgust with Congress could help Obama: This plays right into Obama's "strategy of trying to blame congressional Republicans for the failures of the economic recovery," says Michael Muskal in the Los Angeles Times. He launched his three-day Midwest bus tour by telling voters that he had plenty of plans to create jobs, but "partisan games" in Congress were holding him back. The more angry people get with Congress, the easier his job becomes.
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Denying responsibility won't fool anyone: Obama is "blaming everything but his own policies for the reality of America’s dire economic straits," says Mike Brownfield at The Heritage Foundation, but it won't work. He "had two years of a Democrat-controlled Congress" to take the "bold and swift action" he promised to fix the economy, and "boy, did he take action." But his $780 billion stimulus failed miserably, and everyone knows it.
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Obama's strategy could backfire: Obama might wind up damaging his campaign if he takes his new strategy too far, says Marc Ambinder at The Atlantic. He came into office promising to unite Red and Blue America, with his aides calling him the "only adult in the room," but throwing mud at Congress could make him look like just another partisan politician. Besides, the reality is "that the president's image is inextricably linked to the economy" — if things pick up, he'll look like a strong leader. If not, he's in trouble.
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