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'Obama akbar!' The Democratic president pitches healthcare in Ohio; But for his party? Or himself?


Having postponed his Asian trip three days for the health of his healthcare legislation, President Obama goes back on the domestic road again Monday to push that agenda instead of jobs, as he has repeatedly since losing the Massachusetts Senate seat to Republicans.

Obama's Midwestern audience will surely be friendly. And someone will surely shout, "We love you!" And the president will surely respond, "I love you back!"  (UPDATE Monday 2 p.m.: It happened just that way.)

But outside the venue, touting healthcare as the country's No. 1 Top Supremo priority on this Ides of March may be a tough sell in that hard-hit region.

And elsewhere, for that matter. Despite a brief blip of support after his so-called summit with Republicans, recent national polls have shown:

That only 42% support Obama's legislation (barely 20% of them strongly) while 53% oppose (fully 41% strongly);

That 57% of Americans believe the bill will actually hurt the badly-bruised economy, 66% think the measure, if passed, will increase the federal deficit while more than eight in 10 (81%) think the legislation will cost more than its forecasts;

While 55% agree with the Republican suggestion to scrap the existing measure and start over on a new one.

In an effort to continue dominating each weekday's news cycle with talk of...., Obama on Monday will visit Strongsville, a suburb of Cleveland, in the northeastern corner of Ohio, where counties report unemployment running 10 and 11% now, about two points higher than last year at this time when the much-hailed economic stimulus legislation had just been signed.

(BTW, Vice President Joe "I Don't Have Time for Amtrak Today" Biden, who's been in charge of stimulating the stimulus spending, will also be in Ohio on Monday, but not pushing healthcare. He'll be raising money in Cincinnati for Rep. Steve Driehaus and then up in Cleveland for struggling Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland. Subplot B: Driehaus voted for the original healthcare measure, but as a Catholic opposes the Senate version for lack of specific restraints on federal abortion funding. Can Joe talk him over with a vi$it?)

The national unemployment rate, now that many have given up looking for work, is 9.7%, higher than the 8% maximum promised in early 2009.

After Republican rookie Scott Brown won Ted Kennedy's Massachusetts Senate seat in January, the first Republican to hold it since 1952, Obama, who had campaigned in vain for Brown's opponent, indicated he got the message of opposition to a year's worth of healthcare talk and a keen voter desire to focus instead on jobs.

After a few days, however, the ex-state and ex-U.S. senator returned to his relentless focus on healthcare, which polls have shown is struggling. A average of polls showed 48% in opposition and 44% in support, which forced the president's pollster to make the strange argument that even though most don't now like the plan, they will come to after it passes in a congressional vote, likely late this week.

Democrats Barack Obama and Claire McCaskill Missouri 3-10-10

Obama himself is not on any ballot in November's midterm elections. So he's personally got nothing to lose by driving congressional Democrats to give him what he wants, regardless of the wishes of folks back home.

Better to have successfully completed even a controversial healthcare makeover, the thinking goes, than to go to the voters having wasted a year and try to blame the hapless minority Republicans for the Democratic fissures that stalled a compromise for so many months.

But is Obama perhaps leading his party pals off the cliff, many are now wondering? (See cartoon commentary above by Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Michael Ramirez of Investors Business Daily.)

Fact is, if Democrats kept their overwhelming legislative majorities in both houses of Congress plus control of the White House for the next two years, who are they going to blame for anything come 2012 and Obama's reelection bid with a new VP partner? They'd be playing nonstop defense.

On the other hand, if the House went Republican in November in a modest or landslide rejection of Obama policies, and San Francisco's Nancy Pelosi lost her speakerly gavel to Ohio's John Boehner, that could actually help the president. Instead of Democrats taking full responsibility for everything wrong the next two years, it would stick the GOP with at least partial responsibility for ensuing events.

You don't need all the facts on your side for such a campaign; just some plausible argument points.

Related item:

How Obama tries running against Washington from within Washington

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Editorial cartoon by Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Ramirez published by Investors Business Daily.

Photo: Associated Press (Obama talks healthcare in Missouri last week).

Comments () | Archives (9)

The comments to this entry are closed.

This article lost my interest at "Obama Akbar"

(AM responds: We can tell how uninterested you were by your scrolling all the way to the bottom of it and bothering to leave a comment. Thanks much.)

Hanging around the most depressed areas in the country and preaching to his parasitic constituents isn't going to improve Obama's chances with his socialist healthcare aberration. The people don't want this repulsive garbage and it's time he started listening.


Obama, we don't want you here leave and take Brown,Driehaus and Strickland with you. We told you NO on this healthcare and we mean NO. Ohio will be Red again in November. It would still be red if it wasn't for the voter fraud from Acorn and the Dems. We the People have spoken. We are tired of all of your unconstitutuonal CRAP.

Ouch! The truth hurts!

Democrat Dick Durbin, the House Majority Whip who gets the votes together for this "health" bill said: “Anyone who would stand before you and say ‘well, if you pass health care reform next year’s health care premiums are going down,’ I don’t think is telling the truth. I think it is likely they would go up.”

Has anyone stopped to wonder why the President and Congress have not included themselves in his "health" plan? At the health summit the President argued that a greater "pool" would lower costs for all of us. So … why don't he and the others jump into the same pool with the rest of us?

Has anyone asked themselves why, if large numbers die everyday because they lack insurance (due to the supposedly evil insurance companies), do they both want to wait until 2013 to start giving the so called benefits AND simultaneously give the insurance companies more money by mandating that everyone buy health insurance? It sounds like a big trick to me.

Am I the only one to feel Obama's pigheadedness in pushing this disastrous
health care thing shows his true disdain for democracy ?No matter how clearly
all polls show he is going against the will of the people,the more he seems
determined to ram it down our throats.

Kudos to the author for properly denoucing Obama's refusal to allow his administration to make policy upon on the basis of public opinion polls, and instead pursue the quasi-terrorist strategy of doing what he thinks is right for America. Integrity and courage are obviously the signs of an Islamist mindframe. A true Christian would pursue politcal expediency and say to hell with the 31 million uninsured.

"Instead of Democrats taking full responsibility for everything wrong the next two years, it would stick the GOP with at least partial responsibility for ensuing events.

You don't need all the facts on your side for such a campaign; just some plausible argument points."

...because a pliant, subservient, sycophantic media will ignore Democrat corruption, the fact that Democrats have controlled the pursestrings since 2007,the obvious failure of Obama's policies: the ballooning deficit, debt, unfunded mandates, bankrupt entitlement programs, bankrupt housing programs, overt destruction of whole industries, government takeover of others, the raising of taxes and a host of other job-killing initiatives... and dutifully blame the Republicans as the "party of no"as our nation marches inevitably to collapse.


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
President Obama
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