Sometimes a White House becomes obsessed with small dips in the polls and paranoid about transitory stories harmful to the president. This is not one of those times. It is time to call in a savior chief of staff in the mold of Howard Baker or look at some serious policy changes. Consider:
1. Instead of laudatory coverage, the administration is being slammed over its Iran negotiations, shedding doubt about the credibility of the president and his secretary of state. Like President Richard Nixon declaring “I am not a crook,” John Kerry was compelled to insist “We are not blind, and I don’t think we’re stupid.”
2. The administration has a knack for making bad situations awful. It misrepresented the president’s promise we could keep our insurance plans and doctors for days, until media pummeling made him give it up with a half-hearted apology. Now Kerry is spinning an unbelievable tale of the Geneva negotiations, making the Iranians’ account — which tracked all Western media accounts — seem the more honest of the two. (Iran negotiator Javad Zarif tweeted, ” Mr.Secretary, was it Iran that gutted over half of US draft Thursday night? and publicly commented against it Friday morning?”)
3. The administration will have to reveal the Obamacare enrollment figures. Initial reports indicate the number could be fewer than 50,000 (!).
4. The administration very likely at the end of the year will see more people booted off health insurance than signed up through the exchanges, making Obamacare a cause of the uninsured problem, not a solution to it.
5. The president’s poll numbers continue to tank, suggesting he hasn’t hit rock-bottom yet.
6. Whether it is on Iran or Obamacare, the administration is increasingly at odds with Senate Democrats. Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, for example, is co-sponsoring a bill to let people keep their insurance, which would fundamentally undermine the exchanges.
7. The press is less willing than ever to carry the White House’s water.
8. The budget talks will lead to some small-ball deals, at best. Immigration reform is on life support. So what will the president accomplish in his second term?
9. Republicans now seem to understand that they need to stay out of their own way, not give the president a juicy target (as he had on the shutdown) and stick to the facts (which are damning whether we are talking foreign or domestic policy).
10. The president has managed to reunite the right somewhat. They all want to expose and get rid of Obamacare. I haven’t heard any GOP voices defending the administration’s effort to throw Israel and American security under the bus.