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Obama can’t solve his own political problems through public relations initiatives or photo opportunities. Another speech on the importance of job creation won’t help his poll numbers or his re-election prospects any more than his appeals for bipartisanship and compromise during the debt ceiling standoff did.
And with plenty of uncertainty ahead — uncertainty about the super committee’s ability to arrive at a bipartisan solution, about Europe’s financial health and about the outcome of the 2012 elections — it’s hard to believe many businesses will make major investments during the next few months.
None of this guarantees the president’s defeat next year. But the economic news that develops during the next 15 months will do far more to dictate Obama’s political fate than did last week’s debt ceiling deal.
If the president can’t win re-election by pointing to his successes, he will have no alternative but to run on what he promises will be the Republican presidential nominee’s likely failures. That would mean a sharply negative campaign from the man who campaigned four years ago as someone who could change the tone in Washington, D.C., and bring the country together.
No wonder the White House is praying for an economic upturn or for Republicans to nominate Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minn.) for president.
Stuart Rothenberg is editor of the Rothenberg Political Report.