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Divided We Stand

Divided We Stand
New book about the 2020 election.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Insiders, Outsiders, Economics, Optics, and Martha's Vineyard

Overall, the president's approval numbers are not good, as USA Today reports:

Only 41% of those surveyed Tuesday through Sunday approved of the way Obama is handling his job, his lowest rating in the USA TODAY/Gallup Poll since he took office in January 2009. In Gallup's separate daily tracking poll, his approval was at 45% Monday

And other numbers do not bode well, as Reuters reports:

New claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly rose last week, government data showed on Thursday, underscoring a weak labor market and the fragile economic recovery.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits rose 19,000 to a seasonally adjusted 479,000 in the week ended July 31, the Labor Department said. That was the highest level in claims since early April.

Analysts polled by Reuters had forecast claims dipping to 455,000 from the previously reported 457,000 the prior week, which was revised modestly up to 460,000 in Thursday's report.

"The bottom line is that any recovery in employment is going to be very slow. It's likely that we're still at 9.5 percent unemployment or awfully close to it by the end of the year," said Scott Wren, senior equity strategist at Wells Fargo Advisors in St. Louis.

In the short run, he cannot do much to ease economic troubles. But he can at least avoid errors that make his political situation worse. And so, his choice of a vacation spot is a bad mistake, as Susan Estrich explains:
I'm from Massachusetts. I was in my 30s the first time I ever set foot in Martha's Vineyard. Elite. Fancy. Expensive. Hard to get to. The Estrich family from Lynn considered Nantasket Beach exotic. Martha's Vineyard might as well have been an island off of Spain.

I don't begrudge the president a nice vacation. But having already spent time in Maine this summer, a second vacation to a place other than the hard-hit Gulf is an invitation for people to think what too many of them already think: The president just doesn't get it.

He doesn't understand what's happening out there, out here. People still don't have jobs, home values still haven't recovered, and 401(k)s are still in a slump. The only signs of recovery are a lot of highway projects, which, as we are told every day when the traffic slows, are being paid for by us.

The danger for Democrats is that if people keep thinking the president doesn't get it (and that's what I am hearing, particularly when those golf course shots hit the front page), the easiest way for them to send him a message, since he's not on the ticket, is to vote against the Democrat who is.

In the New York Daily News, Andrea Tantaros writes of even more bad optics:

But while most of the country is pinching pennies and downsizing summer sojourns - or forgoing them altogether - the Obamas don't seem to be heeding their own advice. While many of us are struggling, the First Lady is spending the next few days in a five-star hotel on the chic Costa del Sol in southern Spain with 40 of her "closest friends." According to CNN, the group is expected to occupy 60 to 70 rooms, more than a third of the lodgings at the 160-room resort. Not exactly what one would call cutting back in troubled times.