With all of the spotlights on the high-stakes debt maneuverings by President Obama and Speaker John Boehner the last few days, few people noticed what Vermont's Sen. Bernie Sanders said:
"I think it would be a good idea if President Obama faced some primary opposition."
This is political treason 469 days before a presidential election. Yes, yes, this is just a crusty old New England independent for now, albeit one who caucuses loyally with Harry Reid's Democratic posse.
But while most of the media focuses on Republican Boehner and the tea party pressures on him to raise the debt limit not one Liberty dime, Sanders' mumblings are a useful reminder that hidden in the shadows of this left-handed presidency are militant progressives like Sanders who don't want to cut one Liberty dime of non-Pentagon spending.
Closely read the transcript of Obama's Monday statement on the debt talks stalemate. The full transcript is right here. And the full transcript of Boehner's response is right here.
An Unbalanced Approach to a Balanced Approach
Using political forensics, notice any clues, perhaps telltale code words that reveal to whom he was really addressing his Monday message? Clearly, it wasn't congressional Republicans -- or Democrats, for that matter.
The nation's top talker uttered 2,264* words in those remarks. He said "balanced approach" seven times, three times in a single paragraph.
That's the giveaway. Obviously, David Plouffe and the incumbent's strategists have been polling phrases for use in this ongoing debt duel, which is more about 2012 now than 2011. "Balanced approach" is no sweet talk for old Bernie or tea sippers on the other side.
Obama is running for the center already, aiming for the independents who played such a crucial role in his victorious coalition in 2008. They were the first to start abandoning the good ship Obama back in 2009 when all the ex-state senator could do was talk about healthcare, when jobs and the economy were the peoples' priority.
Democrats lost the New Jersey and Virginia governor's offices largely as a result of that and Ted Kennedy's Senate seat in Massachusetts. And then came last November's midterms when voters chose the approach of that historic pack of House-bound Republicans.
Republicans have their own poll problems in some areas. But even without an identified GOP presidential alternative, we've had a plethora of recent polls showing Obama's fading job approval, especially on the economy.
Now, comes a new ABC News/Washington Post poll with a whole harvest of revelations, among them, strong indications that Obama's liberal base is starting to crumble. Among the nuggets:
Despite those hundreds of billions of blown stimulus dollars and almost as many upturn promises from Joe Biden, 82% of Americans still say their job market is struggling. Ninety percent rate the economy negatively, including half who give it the worst rating of "poor."
Are You Better Off Today Than Jan. 20, 2009?
A slim 15% claim to be "getting ahead financially," half what it was in 2006. Fully 27% say they're falling behind financially. That's up 6 points since February.
A significant majority (54%) says they've been forced to change their lifestyle significantly as a result of the economic times -- and 60% of them are angry, up from 44%.
To be sure, 30 months after he returned to home cooking, George W. Bush still gets majority blame for the economy.
But here's the breaking news for wishful Democrats: George W. Bush isn't running for anything but exercise.
"More than a third of Americans now believe that President Obama’s policies are hurting the economy, and confidence in his ability to create jobs is sharply eroding among his base," the Post reports.
Strong support among liberal Democrats for Obama's jobs record has plummeted 22 points from 53% down below a third. African Americans who believe the president's measures helped the economy have plunged from 77% to barely half.
Obama's overall job approval on the economy has slid below 40% for the first time, with 57% disapproving. And strong disapprovers outnumber approvers by better than two-to-one.
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-- Andrew Malcolm
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Photos: Win McNamee / Getty Images (White House, July 25); Harry Hamburg / Associated Press (Sanders); Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press (Good times around the deficit debate table with Boehner, Obama and Reid, July 23); Times illustration by Andrew Malcolm.
* A previous version contained a higher number.