Thursday, October 22, 2009

To the extent that Obama's attacks on FoxNews and the GOP are the result of a thought-out strategy and aren't simply his lashing out at people who don't like him, who is he trying to impress?

Obama may be trying to rally the left, but I doubt it, as I don't think Obama is figuring his problems are with the left. And I can't fathom the thinking that would have someone thinking that these attacks are supposed to win Obama points from the right.

So, by default, Obama must be trying to impress the middle group of voters, the so-called (at least by me) mushy middle, the voters whose support Obama and the Democrats need to pass legislation and keep their seats.

In doing so, Obama is running a big risk. During the campaign, he ran as a post-partisan candidate, and, presumably, won a fair amount of support from voters tired of politicians yelling at one another instead of working together (I'm not attesting to the wisdom of this view, only that is exists).

And by going after Fox and the GOP, Obama could be trying to appeal to these folks that Fox and the GOP are the obstacles to this utopian dream of post-partisanship. But he runs the risk that these voters will see him as just another complaining politician, no different from everybody else in Washington and thus not deserving of support.

There is a parallel with the way Obama handled the Gates/Cambridge cop kerfuffle. Obama had campaigned as a post-racialist candidate, a black guy who wasn't wedded to traditional black grievances and attitudes. Yet his knee-jerk response to blame the white cop struck many voters as evidence that Obama may not be the person he claims to be... and as a result, Obama's ratings took a hit.

So while the jury is out on Obama's attacks on his political opponents, I think the odds are greater that this will backfire on Obama more than the likelihood he is going to generate much public anger at FoxNews and the GOP.

Of course, Obama may not be following a script but is rather just acting like a petulant, spoiled kid who isn't getting everything he is demanding. And if so, then I would expect to see his ratings take even more of a hit... for as much as the mushy middle doesn't like partisanship, they frown even more on their Presidents acting like little kids.

UPDATE: and to the extent the GOP responds to Obama by accusing him of playing partisan politics, this only further the impression with voters seeking this so-called post-partisan age that Obama is just another politician and not the guy they thought he was going to be.