There are signs that President Obama may be achieving a post-midterm resurgence as the Democratic doldrums of 2014 recede, the new Republican Congress does not inspire confidence in the GOP as a credible governing party, the American economy continues a steady recovery and Hillary Clinton maintains a strong lead in 2016 polling.
There is no question that Obama has ticked up in the polls since the midterm elections. In the summary of polling from Real Clear Politics there has been a moderate but clear improvement in his numbers in recent weeks above the polling pattern that existed from late 2013 — his low point after the rollout of ObamaCare — through the 2014 midterm elections.
A more populist, proactive, aggressive and self-confident Obama has taken the policy initiative and regained the political offensive.
It is not yet clear whether this improvement in the president’s political fortunes represent another major inflection point in the Obama presidency. It may. It may not. We will not know for several months. But there is a clear move up in the president’s numbers, an optimistic new spring in the president’s step and a rejuvenated confidence from Democrats in Congress. A more populist, proactive, aggressive and self-confident Obama has taken the policy initiative and regained the political offensive.
The most important reason is the economy. I have warned against euphoria about the economic recovery; there are still far too many Americans who have been left behind. But the economy has gained considerable strength, the jobless rate has fallen far from its highs, and the price of gas at the pump has crashed, which is great news for consumers.
The president has reacted wisely to good economic news. He has called for a dramatic program to create large numbers of high-paying jobs by rebuilding America’s infrastructure, which would widen the circle of American prosperity. He has proposed tax reforms that would make the system more fair and called for an end to austerity that hurts our national defense and prevents a full employment economy.
Obama’s proposals are economically sensible and politically powerful and have put Republicans on the defensive. Rep. Paul Ryan (Wis.) and other Republicans call the president’s plan the economics of “envy.”
No, calling for further strengthening the national economy, increasing economic growth and reducing economic unfairness is not envy. It is progress. Would Ryan also charge that the world’s great champion of economic fairness, Pope Francis, whose popularity among Americans is at 78 percent according to a recent Pew poll, is preaching an economics of envy?
While the president offers proposals to govern and issues executive orders within his authority, the Republican Congress, which is disapproved of by more than 70 percent of Americans, according to Real Clear politics, continues to cater to its fringe factions and obstruct effective action.
Consider events this week. While the world expresses outrage against terrorist murders and our security services strive to protect our nation from future terror attacks, the GOP in Congress is threatening to shut down the Department of Homeland Security, which would endanger our security, to pursue a vendetta against immigration reform, which passed the Senate with bipartisan support in the last Congress.
The GOP war against immigration reform is a demographic death trap for Republicans who jumped into the trap with both feet and then compounded their error by holding hostage the department that protects America from terrorism as their latest weapon in their nonstop war against whatever the president proposes.
Ronald Reagan, once a hero to Republicans, would be appalled by the GOP today. Reagan believed in governing effectively and working with political opponents. Today’s GOP is a captive of fringe groups that are poisoned with venom against Obama and consider working with him the equivalent of partisan treason.
Reagan championed his 11th Commandment that Republicans should not attack Republicans, but GOP factions attack party members who negotiate with Obama, as Reagan negotiated with Democrats, as being “Republicans in name only.”
Time will tell whether the Obama resurgence advances. If the president keeps governing and Republicans keep obstructing, it will.