By Doug Heye, Thomas Jefferson Street blog
Tonight, we'll hear a laundry list of proposals from the administration--from education to renewable fuels, and, of course, healthcare reform. Politically, however, only one topic will matter: jobs. After a year of making healthcare reform his top priority, yet with nothing to show for it, Democrats are clamoring for President Obama to demonstrate that his eye is on the ball.
"All I care about is jobs," Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm told Politico. "That's topic No. 1--and topic No. 20."
Rep. Dennis Cardoza, a Blue Dog Democrat from California's Central Valley, an area with punishingly high unemployment and foreclosures rates, echoed Granholm's comments. "I want to hear what he's going to do about foreclosures and the economy. I want to hear what he has planned for my state. He's barely been visible there, and as far as I'm concerned, 'The Jay Leno Show' doesn't count."
As Obama has dropped in the polls, even his most enthusiastic supporters feel he's not paid enough attention to the economy. "In my opinion, I feel like he should be focusing a lot more on jobs," Amber Lee Ettinger, better known as "Obama Girl," told the New York Post. Forget about losing support from independents; when you've lost Obama Girl, you're losing America!
Obama will have to explain how he plans to create jobs and grow the economy. It's a topic Obama hasn't talked about as much as one might expect the president to talk about the issue voters care about most. Sure we've heard about shovel-ready projects, taxing banks, saved jobs and prevented depressions, but we've not really heard the Obama say, "Here's how I intend to get unemployment to 8% over the next 18 months," and say it repeatedly.
Democratic disappointment for the first year of Obama's presidency makes for a tough sell.
But, as Hillary Clinton reminded us, damning with faint praise, Barack Obama gives a good a speech. So good, in fact, that one would be foolish to ever write off an Obama speech as anything but an opportunity for him, especially in a venue with great optics where Obama is guaranteed multiple standing ovations. If Obama is to halt the slide in the polls and turn things around for the Democrats, the time is now.