Look for my new column in The Week today: the two sides of Barack Obama. Summary:
When an Elvis impersonator trying to kill the President with a poisoned letter is the least interesting story of the week, you know it was an absolutely extraordinary week. And as the president himself said late Friday night – a tough one at that.
For those of us who watch Barack Obama up close, it was extraordinary in another sense. During the Boston terror strike, we saw the cool, restrained, no-drama Obama. He was on top of the situation, stayed out of the way and kept his public comments to a minimum. He spent much of Friday following events, but not commenting until it was all over. It was a performance that generally drew praise, even from folks who normally opposed the president at every turn.
But we also saw another side of Obama that was anything but restrained: Wednesday’s Rose Garden eruption after the gun bill went down in the Senate. It was a stinging defeat, and after squandering four months and a lot of second-term capital, he had little to show for it. He boiled over in a raw display of emotion and anger: “This was a pretty shameful day for Washington,” he raged. In private, one person who saw the President that day described him as “morose.”
We all knew that the Republicans would be cowards in opposing the will of the people. What’s the excuse of Democrats who broke ranks? As leader of his party, President Obama could have given them the Lyndon Johnson treatment – have them over for a drink, twist their arms, call them incessantly, wear them down.
But that’s not the Obama way, and when it didn’t work out for him on Wednesday, it showed. Yes: the Republicans are cowards who ignored the will of the people. We knew that would happen. For a President just re-elected on the strength of a big data-grass roots-social media powered campaign juggernaut at his disposal, he couldn’t figure out how to win this vote. Leaders don’t come up short, then blame the opposition – they find a way to get the job done.
Read the full column later today in The Week
PRESIDENT EDGES UP IN POLLS
Two new polls since last week's terror strike: Gallup: 53% approve of Obama’s job performance, 41% don't; Rasmussen: 52%-47% . Latest Congressional polling: Gallup: 15% approval, 79% disapproval
GASOLINE PRICES EDGE LOWER
Gasoline prices fell two cents last week. AAA says the national average price of regular is now $3.51 a gallon. That’s down 17 cents in a month and 36 cents in a year. Gasoline prices are well below the all-time high of $4.11 (AAA data) set back in July 2008. Adjusted for inflation, that's approx. $4.53 today .
STATE UNEMPLOYMENT IMPROVES
As we were glued to the TV watching events in Boston unfold, the Labor Dept. Friday said that unemployment rates fell in 26 states in March, while rising in seven. Highest unemployment, it says: Nevada 9.7%; Illinois, 9.5%; California and Mississippi, 9.4%. Lowest: North Dakota 3.3%; Nebraska 3.8%; Vermont 4.1%. As for regional unemployment, rates are highest in the West: 8.3% and lowest in the South: 7.2%.
GEORGE W. BUSH THROWS A PARTY
The George W. Bush Presidential Library will be dedicated in Dallas this week. President and Mrs. Obama will join former Presidents Carter, Bush senior and Clinton at the event. Mr. Bush raised more than $500 million for the library. Fundraising is already underway for the Obama library, by the way, as is the competition between Chicago and Honolulu to host it.
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