Do you think the policies being proposed by the Republican leaders in the U.S. House and Senate would move the country in the right direction or the wrong direction?
Wrong direction: 56 percent
The same CNN poll also finds:
Do you think the policies being proposed by the Democratic leaders in the U.S. House and Senate would move the country in the right direction or the wrong direction?
Wrong direction: 53 percent
And there you have it. Majorities say neither party’s Congressional leadership has the right answers. That includes majorities of independents. But recent CNN polling also shows solid majority support — including among independents — for the provisions in Obama’s jobs plan.
Obama and his advisers have long been said to be frustrated by his inability to rise above the daily Congressional mud-splattering. The resolution of the debt ceiling fight — and the rollout of the new jobs plan — provided just the hook to make another bid for separation from Congress at a time that majorities are convinced that neither party in Congress knows how to solve our problems. As E. J. Dionne put it in an interesting post:
The New Obama — who in some ways is simply the Old Obama reincarnated — is far more likely to inspire confidence than Obama the deal-maker who seemed ready to let conservative Republicans in Congress get what they wanted.
There is also this: If Obama is not making the case for what he wants to do and what he believes, no one else will do it for him. Making arguments is one of the most important things a president does, as both Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton understood. Obama, who used to be good at doing just that, seems to have taken up the task again.
Obama and his advisers have been trying to figure out how to recapture the “first principles” that were once so central to his public persona. It’s easy to forget this now, after two years of wrangling and dealmaking, but one of the things that was particularly refreshing about Obama in 2008 was that he proceeded from the assumption that you could win arguments with Republicans on issues where Dems had historically failed, such as national security and taxes. And he was rewarded: The public sided with Obama’s call for tax hikes on the rich, even though the public isn’t supposed to agree with Dems on such matters.
This is the Obama that he and his aides are trying to recapture. Will it work? It’s become an article of faith in some quarters that the bully pulpit ultimately can’t move public — or Congressional — opinion in the numbers he needs right now. If nothing else, Obama will be putting that theory to a pretty rigorous test.