Obama’s Presidential Problem

I want to direct you, my loyal reader, to a blog post Dr. Sean Evans recently wrote (also published in the June 25th edition of the Jackson Sun).  In this post he reminds us that the Presidency is still, constitutionally, a limited office.  He does not have the power to command (outside his power as Commander-in-Chief) and, as Richard Neustadt, the most famous Presidential political scientist points out, can only truly persuade.

Therein lies President Obama’s problem.  He came in with high expectations and it appears the idea that the presidency was an office he could use to command his directives, such as health care reform, cap and trade, and more.  What we have rediscovered (and the president has probably learned) is that the power of the President is not the power to command, but the power to persuade.  He cannot command cap and trade and it come into being (which is why it is dead in the Senate), nor can he command the Supreme Court to rule like he wants them to (see Citizens United).  The president can only try and persuade Congress (and the American people) to do what he wants (or he can hide the true contents of bills from them because he is afraid of what happens when people discover what is in the bill).

Which is why President Obama is in a huge bind, as Dr. Evans points out.  His high expectations require him to be able to command, something the Presidency is not constitutionally able to do.  Since he cannot command, he falls far short of expectations, and then finds himself where he is now:  on the wrong side of public opinion and possibly on the wrong side of history.

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Its Not Over – Tilly

For the past couple of weeks, I have been very pessimistic at McCain’s chances.  The economic disaster left McCain as much as 8 points down to Obama in the polls.  There is certainly a lack of excitement among Republicans right now as it seems Obama has all the momentum going into the last two weeks of this campaign.  But I have not lost all hope, there is a glimer, though small, still left.  The past week McCain has been narrowing the gap in the polls.  Rasmussen (the poll I trust most) has it 50-46 and Gallup has it even closer at 49-47. There are a couple of reasons why Obama’s numbers have begun to fall, if only oh so slightly.

First, the ACORN scandal is making a difference.  The very fact Obama had to address this issue in the last debate hurts him.  He HAS been connected to ACORN in the past.  His campaign HAS given close to 1 million dollars to the organization.  If this continues to be a topic of discussion, it will continue to push Obama’s numbers down.  Second, the economy no longer seems as urgent of an issue.  Though the stock market is still somewhat unstable, the conversation about the economic disaster has moved into more of a focus on how Obama and McCain will address the economy in general.  Which, has become a discussion of tax policy.  I believe McCain wins the debate if it is on tax policy.  He has been able to frame Obama’s plan as a “redistribution of wealth” (this is largely because of “Joe the Plumber”).  Americans do not like this idea and if they equate “redistribution of wealth” with Obama, McCain will gain ground.

There is one more issue which the Republicans are going to begin pushing hard this week.  Obama supports driver licenses for illegal immigrants.  Up to this point, this issue has not been brought up.  But if it becomes an issue largely discussed, it will become a problem for the Obama campaign.  This issue could infuriate independents.  Watch this ad that will begin playing in swing states this week… read on…

McCain Gets His Bounce…But For How Long?

Well its the Monday after the Republican National Convention.  And the polls look very different than they did before the convention:

Rassmussen: McCain +1

USA Today: McCain +10

Gallup: McCain +5

Zogby: McCain +4

This should not be surprising because the Republicans, as always, gave a great convention.  Read More…