Doesn’t look good when even the Washington Post says it may be game over for Obama.
Does the health-care fumble mean game over for Obama?
Four times he mentioned fumbling — both the HealthCare.gov Web site and his promise that people could keep their health plans if they liked them. “These are two fumbles on something that — on a big game, which — but the game’s not over,” he said.
In a narrow sense, that’s probably true: There may well be enough time to salvage Obamacare.
But on the broader question of whether Obama can rebuild an effective presidency after this debacle, it’s starting to look as if it may be game over.
The record for recent second-term presidents is not good: Reagan had Iran-contra, Clinton had impeachment and Bush had Katrina and Iraq. Once a president suffers a blow such as Obama is now suffering with his health-care law — in which the public not only disapproves of a president’s actions but starts to take a negative view of him personally — it is difficult to recover.
This week’s Quinnipiac University poll found Obama’s job-approval rating at its lowest ever, 39 percent. More ominous: Only 44 percent say Obama is honest and trustworthy, while 52 percent say he is not; that’s the first time more thought him untrustworthy than trustworthy. Polls show Obama’s personal favorability rating has dropped in tandem.
We have seen this before. After the flubbed response to Katrina in 2005, George W. Bush’s honest-and-trustworthy rating fell below 50 percent for the first time, and it never returned. Bill Clinton began his second term with 42 percent calling him honest and trustworthy; he soon slipped into the 20s in Post polling and stayed there.
The loss of trust will make even harder the already uphill effort to persuade Congress to enact other items on his agenda, such as immigration reform and a comprehensive budget deal. House Speaker John Boehner this week dashed hopes of immigration legislation getting through Congress anytime soon, saying the House wouldn’t even negotiate with the Senate over an immigration bill that chamber had passed.
Also this week, House and Senate conferees meeting to discuss the budget they have been assigned to produce acknowledged they had given up hope for a far-reaching agreement.
“As someone who’s been naive enough to believe that we could actually do a larger deal,” Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) told his fellow conferees, “at least getting something done for a year or two would, I think, have an extraordinarily positive effect.”
Obama, in his Thursday news conference, spoke of regaining his clout as part of the game. His game plan: “My intention in terms of winning back the confidence of the American people is just to work as hard as I can, identify the problems that we’ve got, make sure that we’re fixing them.”
“There are going to be ups and downs during the course of my presidency,” Obama said. “I think I said early on when I was running, I am not a perfect man and I will not be a perfect president.” Truer words have never been spoken.