Barack Obama has been doing well recently. The public is beginning to experience the economic recovery. Job growth and consumer spending are up, a bit. Obama is shaping the political agenda on his own terms, with the full support of his party. At year’s end, he negotiated more resolutely with the Republican Congress, extending the payroll tax cut thus far for a couple of months, with every indication that it will be extended for a year. He has the political advantage on this, along with other legislative issues, as reported in The New York Times. He refused to be forced into making an abrupt decision in the Keystone XL oil pipeline. His Attorney General, Eric Holder, is challenging the legality of voter ID laws in the old confederacy. His job approval rating is up, as the Republican’s in Congress approval is down.
I think that the improvement in Obama’s standing is related to the change in the public debate, away from the obsession with deficits and cutting, toward jobs, inequality and social justice. This is not only a matter of changed tactics, but of a transformed political environment. Obama can thank Occupy Wall Street for making this possible. It’s an OWS not a Tea Party environment now. But it’s not just a matter of the environment. Obama also has contributed in a significant way. He made these issues his own in his Osawatomie, Kansas speech. I agree with David Howell, it was one of his best. He again revealed his capacity as story-teller-in-chief.
Howell liked the speech because it spoke to a pressing problem and its sociological consequence and political cause: “the massive and continued growth in inequality, linking this to the collapse of the middle class and to the obstructionism . . .
Read more: President Obama vs. the Republican Congress