Obama Focuses on Bipartisan Support

President Barack Obama, Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

President Obama addressed the press in the East Room of the White House Wednesday, just one day after Republicans won control of the House of Representatives. It was a somber and reflective tone and reporters seemed to push the president to admit it was his failed policies that resulted in the loss of power.
“People are frustrated -- they’re deeply frustrated -- with the pace of our economic recovery and the opportunities that they hope for their children and their grandchildren,” Obama told reporters at the White House. While sitting in the second row and to Obama’s left, I could tell the room was more silent than other news conferences.  However, Obama rebounded by denying his policies contributed to the loss. Instead President Obama focused on the crisis he faced when taking office in January 2009. “We already had a big deficit that I inherited, and that has been made worse because of the recession” Obama cited in the question/answer segment. This resonated Obama’s campaign charge in 2008, which focused on the word “change” referring to Republican policies and administration of George W. Bush.
Yet, Obama conceded that the efforts he made in the first two years were met with skepticism. "I think people started looking at all this and it felt as if government was getting much more intrusive in people's lives than they were accustomed to. ... We thought it was necessary but, you know, I'm sympathetic to folks who looked at it and said this is looking like potential overreach."
The November 2nd results were a loss for Obama and the Democrats. The loss of a House seat belonging to Democrat Tom Perriello in Virginia was significant because Obama had travelled to Charlottesville in a last ditch effort to help. Obama also lost his old seat in Illinois along with a Senate seat in Pennsylvania, where he rallied with voters on October 30th in Philadelphia. Democrat Harry Reid of Nevada (D) managed to keep his seat. However, Reid’s weakened stature did not make it feel like much of a victory.
Obama suggested bipartisan efforts could work on natural gas, electric cars and reviving the nuclear and technology industries with new and greater products. The challenge is getting things accomplished as Republicans decided not to vote on many of the president’s initiatives.
My Political Analysis
Obama faces a series of priority calls in order to survive the sudden change in the House. Senior Adviser David Axelrod and Press Secretary Robert Gibbs stood on the far side of the East Room exchanging notes during the speech today. Clearly, both play a major role in advising President Obama in the messaging of the White House. The need for a more aggressive position would signal a more responsive White House. With Rahm Emmanuel, former chief of staff gone, this is a real possibility for a strategic change. Gibbs and Axelrod need to take a more assertive messaging approach instead of responding to political charges and crisis after the fact. They need to generate a messaging strategy that highlights the president’s rescue of Wall Street and stabilizes the rest of the country. They must get ahead of new and upcoming issues to realize any measure of success with the American people. That ultimately translates into acquiring the votes needed to win the 2012 presidential election. Some, like opinion Columnist Douglas E. Schoen of POLITICO.com, suggests Obama should fire both Gibbs and Axelrod. So much for diplomacy Doug!
A new winning strategy would begin with taking an inventory of what the president is accomplishing and spreading that material to the public through their own channels but also through the 24-hour media cycle. On Wednesday, Obama stated, “And if there are good ideas about putting people to work that traditionally have garnered Republican support and that don’t add to the deficit, then my hope is and expectation is, is that that’s something they’re willing to have a serious conversation about.” It is a key for the Obama White House to not only solicit these Republican ideas, but analyze them in a transparent way, identifying pros and cons to the public in a timely fashion. Proving how an Obama plan is more solution oriented is a key.
The ongoing recession has created a heightened level of anxiety in America. Any future Obama success will be tied to being responsive to Americans’ concerns about job creation and commerce. This must be a much larger collective and collaborative effort and not just Obama jetting to various cities and rallying up supporters. That means DNC Communications Director Brad Woodhouse coming up with better things to Twitter than arrival and destination information. Woodhouse’s recent tweet of a sunrise on the Chesapeake Bay is not going to win the 2012 presidential election.
Representative John Boehner (R), the next Speaker of the House will continue the no cooperation role that has been the modus operandi for Republicans. Several presidential and judicial Obama appointments have been stalled, as reported in the Huffington Post. So, if the Republicans can continue their viral attacks on Obama stalling any and all of his agenda without repudiation, the president's poll numbers (now in the mid 40’s) could continue to drop. The Republicans also face a huge hill in 2012 by choosing and backing one candidate. Looming in the forefront is Fox News Contributor and self-proclaimed GOP star Sarah Palin. In a very short time, the GOP will find that her candidacy for president would not be viable. Palin will not go quietly in the night. Her bully pulpit approach will start a firestorm that will cause the GOP a real crisis in leadership that no one has considered. As the public watches this GOP meltdown, Obama will be the only choice on the other side. Even privately, people like Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele and other political operatives have no clue who the presidential candidate will be for the GOP in 2012.
Wamara Mwine covers the White House for PoliticsInColor.com. At United Press International, NBC and CNN, Mwine covered national politics. Mwine's passion for social issues is reflected in his letters published in USA Today. Wamara Mwine advises attorneys, politicians and church leaders in crisis-media and public relations. He can be reached at politicsincolor@gmail.com.