By Paul Bedard, Washington Whispers
It happened to Ronald Reagan. Ditto for Bill Clinton. And now President Obama has ended his first year in office plummeting in the polls on the heels of a bad economy. So can Obama come back as Reagan and Clinton did? We asked around to come up with ideas for his recovery—some serious, like creating jobs, and others less so, like showing more humor. Most involve a little better luck for Obama, while some call for choosing between what's popular and what's needed for the country. Here are the 10 keys to an Obama comebacK: [See a slide show of the 10 Keys to an Obama Comeback.]
1. Lighten up. People like a president they feel they can have a beer with, so take off the robot mask and show some humor. Toss a soggy tennis ball to Bo, or whiff a soccer ball kick playing with Malia.
2. Have Michelle take a more prominent role on a major issue like helping women find jobs. She's more popular, so take advantage of it. [See photos of Michelle Obama.]
3. Feel our economic pain. People want a president to understand the economic plight they are going through. Spend some nights in the homes of regular folks, and skip the fancy restaurants for Denny's sometime.
4. Create an employment program where new jobs can be accurately calculated. Fudging success as on the past stimulus program only builds skepticism.
5. Take whatever healthcare deal you can, then promote the heck out of the benefits. Find real people who will benefit from the program, and tell their stories.
6. Hit the campaign trail for troubled Democrats, and brag about them. Democratic voters are telling pollsters that they are unenthusiastic, so they need to be cheered on to go to the polls. To quote Obama's campaign pollster Cornell Belcher, frame the issues in a populist manner that will wow the nonpartisan "change" voters who made the senator president.
7. Extend some elements of the Bush tax cuts to those making $250,000 or less. Your promise not to raise taxes for those Americans, the bulk of the nation, is being watched like a hawk by Republicans.
8. Bring the troops home from Iraq, and close the Guantánamo Bay prison. [See photos of the Guantánamo Bay prison.]
9. Seize voter anger, and steer it to a new "economic populism," says Belcher. Tap it before the GOP does, and talk about the patriotism of shared sacrifice for the common good. Belcher says that still polls well.
10. Name Oprah as a domestic envoy. People think she can talk to you straight and that she'll bring their concerns to you.