House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) was asked at a press briefing this morning about President Obama's series of speeches on the economy and the middle class. My jaw dropped a bit by the response.
"I'm not going to speak to what the president is doing or why he's doing it. If I had poll numbers as low as his, I'd probably be out doing the same thing, if I were him."
Look, if Boehner wants to say his ideas are better than the president's, fine. If the Speaker wants to make the case that the Republican vision of governance is superior to the Democratic vision, that's his right. These are subjective questions.
But the one topic John Boehner should go out of his way not to talk about is his poll numbers. If he had "poll numbers as low" as Obama's? Seriously? If Boehner had poll numbers as high as the president's he wouldn't be such a hapless, accomplishment-free House Speaker.
This is not a matter of opinion. The latest NBC/WSJ poll showed Obama with a 48% favorability rating, while the same poll showed Boehner with an 18% favorability rating. The president's approval rating, depending on which poll you like, is somewhere between 45% and 50%, while Boehner's Congress' approval rating is between 11% and 19%.
Obama is a relatively popular president; Congress is a national laughingstock. The House Speaker sometimes struggles with current events, but if he thinks he enjoys a stronger public standing than Obama, he needs to have a long chat with his pollster.