THE PRESIDENT FLOPS – AT 8:12 A.M. ET: President Obama is getting a large number of failing grades over his handling of the airline terror attack. Clear-headed analyst Walter Russell Mead of the Council on Foreign Relations puts it well, via The Politico:
A lot of the things that presidents have to do are hard. That is all the more reason why they should do the easy stuff well. Handling an incident like the Christmas bombing is something they teach in White House management 101. The easy part is managing your response to the news and making sure you get the optics right. The hard part is the policy: figuring out what went wrong, taking the right steps to address the problem, and pressing on with your strategic vision of how to deal with the threat. The problem for the White House at this point is that when you fluff the easy part, the public starts to wonder if you have what it takes to do the hard part of the job.
What the White House seems to be missing is that this sort of moment is an opportunity to connect with the public while its attention is focused and to get out the message about this administration's approach to the terrorism threat. In particular, it's a chance to connect with women. He's lost the angry white male vote -- not that he ever had much of it. His danger is that he'll lose the soccer moms: voters who like a lot of what this President stands for but who are worried about security and worried about debt.
COMMENT: More ouch. If Obama loses women over the security issue, he's a one-termer, which may be the case anyway. You get the feeling that he's overwhelmed by the job, not that interested in actually doing it, and enjoys the perks rather than the challenge. Sometimes it appears he'd rather be basketball commissioner, or a restaurant critic.
December 30, 2009