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The Progressive

The Problems with Podesta’s Take on Obama’s Poll Numbers

The folks around Barack Obama are scratching their heads, wondering why his poll numbers are autumnal, hanging there in the low to mid-40s.

John Podesta, Clinton's old chief of staff who headed up Obama's transition team, recently offered his own view that the President got bogged down in the legislative details, for one, and as a result, he couldn't deliver on his pledge to transcend partisanship. And for two, the economy didn't recover quickly enough.

Well, let's look at these.

Obama's pledge bipartisanship always seemed either gimmicky or naïve, since the Republicans have been set on sabotaging him every step of the way. And this could have been predicted. In fact, it was. By none other than Hillary Clinton.

So Obama should have given up on this sooner, rather than clinging to it for so long. Or he should never have made it a campaign pledge in the first place, since it boxed him in.

As for the economy, it hasn't recovered quickly enough because Obama didn't frontload enough stimulus. And the theory was wrong.

"The idea was that you didn't have to get the unemployment rate to a certain number, but you had to get unemployment going in the right direction," Podesta told the New York Times.

But even if unemployment were dropping slowly, that wouldn't put food on the table for 14 million people still officially out of a job-and the millions more who stopped looking long ago.

It was this miscalculation, more than anything, that has kept Obama's numbers in the dumpster.

Plus, having Robert Gibbs and Rahm Emanuel rip into Obama's progressive base hasn't helped matters much, either.

Single payer, forget it.

Public option, no need.

Afghanistan, more troops.

Obama's opposition will always hate him.

But he's not given his own base enough support to remain energized.

He's not delivered enough for Independents economically to win them over.

And he hasn't stressed a consistent theme of progressive governance, which would give much-needed coherence to the hodge-podge that is his Administration.

We know things are bad. We know it's worth the fight.

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Matthew Rothschild

Matthew Rothschild

Matthew Rothschild is senior editor of The Progressive magazine.

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