President Obama has staked his reelection on running against a Republican Congress. There are lots of problems with that, including the acknowledgement implicit in that gambit that he can’t effectively work on a bipartisan basis. But his biggest obstacle is his own party. Politico reports:
Several moderate Democrats and Republicans appear to be struggling to overcome “stimulus fatigue” setting in among voters back home and are withholding support for now — meaning the latest proposal is at risk of winning even less backing than the president’s signature economic bill, which fell nine votes shy of breaking a GOP-led filibuster last week.
“At some point — and my opinion is now — we’ve got to stop spending money we don’t have,” said Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), who caucuses with Democrats. He told POLITICO he probably would vote to block the latest proposal from even moving forward for debate. . . . [W]hat’s complicating Democratic efforts to round up support is that Washington’s efforts — dating back to last year of George W. Bush’s administration — have so far failed to produce the promised economic recovery.
Yeah, it’s a drag trying to get people who are up for election to vote for things that don’t work.
The Wall Street Journal points to the large list of Democrats who won’t go to the mat for Obama’s jobs bill. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is “the most outspoken of a group of Senate Democrats who are facing reelection in swing states next year — and who are keeping their distance from the president.” The report recounts:
Democratic Sen Jon Tester of Montana, for example, voted along with Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska to keep the jobs bill from reaching the floor. . . . When Mr. Obama visited St. Louis recently, Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri didn’t appear with him, saying she had a scheduling conflict.
In other words, there is a bipartisan majority — of opposition to the president. Certainly a President Romney or a President Bachmann could put together a coalition of Republicans and moderate Democrats to get quite a lot done. And that is ultimately the problem with Obama’s strategy. You can only run against “obstructionists” if your own agenda is widely popular and credible. Obama doesn’t have that. His own party knows it. The voters know it. And the GOP presidential candidates know it.