Friday, January 29, 2010

Can Obama Pull Together a Fractured and Damaged Democratic Party?

A lot of people have remarked to me in the past few months how amazingly little the present political environment resembles the environment in 2008, when President Obama won a decisive victory in the Presidential race and Democrats established huge majorities in both houses of congress.

In actuality, early 2010 looks a heck of a lot like 2008. An unpopular President. A party exposing deep philosophical fractures as the true believers talk down and attempt to beat the moderates in line. A confused platform that seems to have drifted away from both the party's core values and the American people. It was the Republicans in 2008, it is the Democrats today.

The President's approval numbers have been largely flat this week, continuing to reflect a deeply divided country that was united just a short year ago.

His monthlies show a slightly larger than 1% decline since December, certainly not the President's worst month in office, but a continuation of a series of declines.

So, what to do? As long as unemployment is high, it almost doesn't matter. And unemployment appears likely to still be at a very elevated level in November. This has the Democrats scattering when it should be liberating them. If you are going to get blamed for the poor economy, you might as well be fighting to do everything that you think needs to be done, rather than worrying about losing an election. They need a leader that gives them a rallying cry. That addresses the key moral issues of the day. That provides clear direction.

Can President Obama be that guy?

The verdict is still out. But the President will have to do much, much more in his second year in office than he did in his first year to lead his party. Outsourcing to Pelosi and Reid no longer works.

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