Coming soon to a community near you: the president of the United States and his national empathy and fund-raising tour. President Obama is planning to get out of Washington as much as possible during the next few months. He wants to show everyday Americans that he isn't in the grip of the Washington insiders with whom he worked out that controversial budget deal this week even though as president he is surely Insider Number One. And he wants to score some political points that will help his re-election drive.
The tour is already rolling. Obama is in Chicago today to celebrate his 50th birthday with hometown buddies, and to raise several million dollars for his campaign. He argues that he is trying to improve the economy but also wants to show that he understands the plight of individual Americans who are suffering. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney says Obama will tour the Midwest from August 15-17 and focus on "the economy and jobs." Carney adds that it's vital for any president to hear from "people in different communities" and not just from Washington's power brokers.
This is a common presidential reaction to problems in the capital. Every modern president has made a point of getting out of Washington and taking his case to the public when things get tough in D.C.
But voters are blaming both Obama and Congress for the messy endgame to the debt-ceiling crisis. And the deal itself isn't going over well. A new CNN poll finds that only 44 per cent of Americans approve of the debt ceiling law and 52 per cent disapprove. About 45 percent approve of Obama's handling of his job as president and 52 per cent disapprove, paralleling the public's assessment of the overall debt agreement.