Friday, September 18, 2009
Obama's Sunday Blitz
This weekend, Barack Obama goes for the Sunday talk-show equivalent of the all-out blitz: He will be on NBC's "Meet The Press," CBS's "Face The Nation," ABC's "This Week," CNN's "State of the Nation" -- as well as Spanish-language Univision. (The only notable exception appears to be, ahem, "FOX News Sunday." Mr. President, what, the "fair and balanced" crew don't get any love?) On top of that, on Monday, David Letterman gets thrown in for good measure (wanna bet that the president will avoid any jokes about Special Olympics?).
Given the pummeling that the administration has received in the last couple of months over health care -- and Democrats in full retreat from their left-wing allies ACORN -- the question is being asked, "Isn't the president overexposed?" After all, he's given well over 100 interviews since becoming president -- two and a half times as many as Bill Clinton and George W. Bush did at equivalent times in their presidency
His overall job approval has suffered during that time: From 70 percent in the dizzying early days -- to around 50 percent now.
But this isn't the first time the "overexposure" question has been posed. George Will posed it six weeks into the Obama presidency. And a few others piled on too. And the question was even addressed in this space.
But there's one major reason why the White House is willing to "overexpose" Barack Obama: He's the Democrats' best weapon; he's the best salesman on health care and a host of other issue that Democrats can deploy. And a Pew Research poll released Thursday underscores the fact. Despite the falling job approval numbers, Obama's personal characteristics remain remarkably strong with the public:
Yes, there has been erosion -- he's been in office nearly eight months and had a brutal partisan debate, why woulldn't there be? Yet, the public view of Obama on all but one of a series of personal attributes -- "strong leader," "well-organized," "trustworthy," etc., are in the 60s at least. Even the one outlier, "Is able to get things done," registers at 58 percent. That's a good foundation for a president still trying to make a sale. If his personal qualities had collapsed along with his job approval, the public would immediately tune him out wherever he appeared. Conversely, the fact the public still likes Barack Obama gives him an enormous amount of power to keep impacting the debate.
One side note: That continuing good will also explains why the White House completely refuses to be drawn into the "racism" debate. Not only does it "distract" from the issues at hand, if Obama did engage it -- and gave any credence to the claims of Jimmy Carter and others -- so much of those personal-attribute numbers would fade. After all, if racism remained such a factor in public antipathy toward Barack Obama, would 64 percent of Americans still consider him "trustworthy" (that's 11 percent more than voted for the president, by the way)?
In short, your best salesman is only overexposed when 1) customers are no longer interested in buying what he's selling, or 2) don't believe his pitch. The White House has determined that Barack Obama hasn't reached that point yet.