That's why Obama (whose 41 percent approval looks grand next to Congress's rating) is gearing up for a Truman-esque run against Congress and its stubborn gridlock. If Congress doesn't act on the jobs plan he will unveil in September, he said last week, "then we'll be running against a Congress that's not doing anything for the American people, and the choice will be very stark and will be very clear." In keeping with his post-partisan brand, the president is hitting the Congress as a whole rather than just House Republicans. But he does so knowing that the GOP has taken the bulk of the damage from anti-Congress sentiment. [Check out political cartoons about the economy.]
And you can be sure that Obama will do everything he can to pin the toxic Congress on the GOP nominee. Which brings us back to the question of a GOP Sister Souljah moment. Can we expect Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, or Mitt Romney to publicly disassociate him or herself from the party's toxic brand? [Check out political cartoons about the 2012 GOP field.]
Take them one at a time. The embodiment of the no-compromise style the public disdains, Bachmann seems congenitally incapable of such a move unless it's a reverse Sister Souljah moment, where she castigates her party for being insufficiently beholden to its base.
Then there is Perry. While the last Lone Star governor to run for president couched his conservatism as compassionate and cast himself as a "uniter, not a divider," Perry has a history of being a rhetorical bomb-thrower who relishes a fight, and not someone given to apologize for taking hard lines. His lunatic comments about Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's efforts to stimulate the economy being potentially "treasonous" are classic Perry. He has shown some willingness to buck conservatives on immigration. But he seems an unlikely candidate for a stand against movement orthodoxy, especially because he seems to be positioning himself as the thorough-going, unwavering conservative in the race, in contrast to the abject flip-flopper Romney. [Read: Perry Wrong on Texas Secession Question.]
The former Massachusetts governor, ironically, seems perfectly capable of a Sister Souljah moment, but he is also ideally positioned for it to backfire. Clinton's rebuke of Souljah was a logical step in a long-term effort to move his party to the center. Romney, by contrast, has spent most of the last decade trying to burnish his conservative bona fides. Publicly breaking with the right after securing the nomination would only reinforce his reputation as a transparently say-anything politician.
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- Read about Rick Perry's 4 Economic Vulnerabilities
- Read about How Politicians Are Wrecking the World Economy