President Obama could be forgiven if he heaved a massive sigh of relief this past week while flipping his desk calendar — people still have those, right? — to the month of September.
August came in with a debt-ceiling fight that left voters more disgusted than ever with Washington and went out with a speech-scheduling snafu that made the vaunted Obama message operation look weak at best, ineffectual at worst.
And in between were a first-ever downgrading of the nation’s credit rating, an extended debate over whether the Obamas should vacation on Martha’s Vineyard during an economic downturn, a hurricane that affected Americans from North Carolina to Maine and, oh yeah, an earthquake in the nation’s capital.
August has long been the cruelest month for Obama. In August 2007, he fought off the creeping story line that he had missed his window to make a move on front-running Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton in the presidential race. In August 2009, he watched the rise of the tea party. And in August 2010, it became clear that Obama’s “recovery summer,” well, wasn’t happening.
Losing August 2011 is, of course, far better than losing November 2012. But last month’s events suggest that the president and his White House team have lost their way, making the sort of unforced errors — and messaging missteps — that have seemed to be the antithesis of Obama’s political career to date. That the month ended with the White House bowing to House Speaker John Boehner’s demands that the president reschedule his jobs speech this coming week seemed somehow fitting.
The Obama White House, for having to weather all 31 days of August, you had the worst week in Washington. Congrats, or something.
Have a candidate for the Worst Week in Washington? E-mail Chris Cillizza at firstname.lastname@example.org .
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