[Posted by Karl]
HotAir’s Allahpundit and Ed Morrissey were just having an interesting Twitter discussion with the Daily Caller’s Mary Katharine Ham about Pres. Obama’s planned vacation on Martha’s Vineyard later this month.
They began where a lot of conservatives end, with the notion that the attacks on a vacationing president are generally unfair, but that the double standard imposed by the establishment and its media — here perfectly personified by White House flack Jay Carney — is the root of conservative complaint.
However, Allahpundit then added: “Disagree. This is an extraordinary economic moment. Not only is he disengaged, he doesn’t even care if he looks it.” Ed picked up the point: “He is missing an opportunity to stay in WH and point out the fact that Congress went home.” Allahpundit then added a seemingly comic spin: “It’s an opportunity for him to finally finally put out his own plan and push it. He has DC all to himself.” The joke, of course, is that Obama has no plan to address either the medium-term debt bomb or the shorter-term (one hopes) weakness of the economy.
This vacation is a missed opportunity for Obama, both substantively and politically, though the latter is the focus here. Obama currently finds himself at a low in the polls; the economy remains in bad shape. In modern history, only Truman managed to eke out re-election from a position this bad. Truman did so in part by calling a special session of Congress to highlight a divided and obstructionist Republican party in 1948.
In recent weeks, Obama has feinted in the direction of such attacks from time to time. However, he finds himself unable to truly dramatize his argument because he has no plans of his own. I have suggested that this is primarily due to the apparent failure of his Keynesian “stimulus” program. Robert Reich claims Obama has no economic plan because the White House believes “the only jobs plan that could get through Congress would be so watered down as to have almost no impact by Election Day” and that Obama would be (rightly) tagged as a big spender. What’s more, according to Reich, the administration has apparently decided it’s politically wiser to continue fighting about the deficit:
The idea is to keep the public focused on the deficit drama – to convince them their current economic woes have something to do with it, decry Washington’s paralysis over fixing it, and then claim victory over whatever outcome emerges from the process recently negotiated to fix it.
Reich, we must remember, has a history of inventing conversations like this. But assuming for the sake of argument that this is Obama’s political strategy (which is not unreasonable, even if Reich is imagining the conversation), he remains unable to fully exploit it due to his own failures of leadership. Indeed, by placing his trust in a Congressional “supercommittee,” he has tied his fate to those whom he could otherwise cleanly attack.