Zeke Miller ran a report the other day, arguing that President Obama has gotten “his groove back,” having “regained a bit of the swagger – and the charisma – that seemed to slip away as the exuberance of the campaign was replaced by the complex, draining business of governing.”
How much have the president’s political fortunes improved? The New York Times’ Jennifer Steinhauer reports today that congressional Democrats actually want to be seen with him in 2012.
Just six months ago, having their names uttered in the same sentence as President Obama’s was something many Congressional Democrats could have lived without.
But with the economy slowly crawling back to life, a shift in messaging at the White House and a Republican push on social issues, Democrats are accepting – and in some cases openly embracing – the inevitable yoking of their campaigns to Mr. Obama’s as election-year activities accelerate. On Capitol Hill, Democrats have begun to mention Mr. Obama more often and have gone out of their way to publicly back some of his proposals.
Democrats say Mr. Obama’s near monophonic campaigning in recent months – highlighting his differences with Republicans on policies affecting the middle class – is far more resonant in their districts and states than defending the health care law or the stimulus package, issues that have dogged Democrats.
Sen. Tom Carper (D), a centrist from Delaware, said of the prevailing political conditions surrounding Obama, “I think it’s definitely shifting now…. I don’t know that it’s springtime just yet, but the wind is coming back.”
For their part, congressional Republicans are inadvertently making conditions easier for Obama and his party to strengthen their ties. After all, the GOP is not only running an ugly presidential nominating race, with the American mainstream souring on all of the Republican White House hopefuls, but as was discussed on last night’s show, GOP policymakers are overreaching in Congress and state capitals, putting the party on the extremist side of unpopular culture-war fights.
Republican radicalism notwithstanding, it’d be naive to think every vulnerable Democratic incumbent would welcome Obama to his or her state with open arms this fall. For that matter, the election is still nine months away, and there’s abundant uncertainty surrounding the economy, gas prices, and international developments, all of which quickly could the president’s standing.
But for now, the fact that Democrats are starting to see Obama as an asset again is no doubt welcome news at the White House.