I can hardly believe that the President of the United States, whose team is apparently deeply concerned about their guy's declining popularity and news stories which kept Republicans in the headlines this weekend, is going on a "Me Too" bus tour of Iowa, Minnesota, and Illinois this week. The only plausible reason for this is to attempt to blunt the generally positive GOP vibe coming out of Iowa and to go after Michele Bachmann, Saturday's Iowa straw poll winner.
In his coverage at the Associated Press today, Steven R. Hurst admits as much, while otherwise acting as the administration's de facto propaganda spokesman (bolds and numbered tags are mine):
Obama begins political counteroffensive this week
President Barack Obama launches a political counteroffensive this week, weighed down by a stunted economy , wilting support among some of his most ardent backers, and a daily bashing from the slew of Republicans campaigning for his job. 
"We've still got a long way to go to get to where we need to be. We didn't get into this mess overnight, and it's going to take time to get out of it," the president told the country over the weekend, all but pleading for people to stick with him.
A deeply unsettled political landscape, with voters in a fiercely anti-incumbent mood, is framing the 2012 presidential race 15 months before Americans decide whether to give Obama a second term or hand power to the Republicans. Trying to ride out what seems to be an unrelenting storm of economic anxiety , people in the United States increasingly are voicing disgust with most all of the men and women, Obama included, they sent to Washington to govern them.
With his approval numbers sliding, the Democratic president will try to ease their worries and sustain his resurrected fighting spirit  when he sets off Monday on a bus tour of Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois. The trip is timed to dilute the GOP buzz emanating from the Midwest after Republicans gathered in Iowa over the weekend for a first test of the party's White House candidates.  The state holds the nation's first nominating test in the long road toward choosing Obama's opponent.
... Obama, expecting the political shelling he would take, fired pre-emptively in his weekly radio and Internet address to the nation on Saturday. He told listeners that it was the Republicans running for president and serving in Congress who were at work crushing voters' hopes and dreams. 
... He chastised Republicans for brinksmanship, saying "some in Congress would rather see their opponents lose than see America win." 
That's an assessment that has some validity, particularly among the new class of House Republicans who have used their outsized legislative power to stymie Obama at every turn since their election last November. 
-  -- It's never Obama's fault. In Hurst's world, the economy is just there, not cooperating. Administration policies couldn't poooooossibly have anything to do with the economy misery the nation continues to endure.
-  -- It must be in the AP Stylebook somewhere that any criticism emanating from a conservative or Republican must be described as "bashing," ravaging," attacking," "lashing out," and the like.
-  -- Translation: It's still George W. Bush's fault.
-  -- C'mon, Steve-O, this is disgraceful. You're supposed to be writing a news report, not a cheerleading press release from Pravda. The only good news in this is that if the press is having to roll out this kind of crap already, they must think that Barack Obama faces a long, hard next 15 months.
-  -- To readers having a hard time remembering Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Bush 41, Bill Clinton, or Bush 43 un-presidentially following the other party's candidates around during the middle of the third year of their first terms (in the case of Carter and Bush 41, their only terms), there's a reason for that. They didn't.
-  -- It's as if Barack Obama's not in charge now. It's as if Democrats are at the mercy of Republicans in Washington now, even though they control the White House, the Senate, and the bureaucracy. It's as if Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid didn't have complete control in Washington for two years.
-  -- I see Steven Hurst has joined the "Let's attack the Tea Party at every turn" movement. If the "new class of Republicans" has such "outsized power," Steve, how is it that they, as you admitted elsewhere in your coverage, were only able to get "an anemic deal to cut the government deficit"? As to the supposed "anti-incumbent mood" Hurst frequently cites, I'm betting that it hardly extends to Washington politicians who have demonstrated their support of Tea Party values.
Other items on AP's checklist Hurst made sure he completed:
- Call Michele Bachmann an "ultraconservative" -- check.
- Make sure readers know Rick Perry is "a former Democrat" (22 years ago!) -- check.
- Criticize a Republican (in this case, Mitt Romney) who says something which is true, in this case that corporations are treated as persons before the law, as having given Democrats "a political gift" -- check.
- Remind people that Perry is from the same state as the eeeeeevil George W. Bush, in an ominous tone ("Perry's speaking style and swagger are eerily reminiscent of another Texas governor who made the transition to the national stage: President George W. Bush") -- check.
Getting back to Obama (and this is my personal take): This habit of his of appearing in the proximity of GOP candidates and leaders is something you'd normally see from supposedly overconfident authoritarians in banana republic countries attempting to intimidate their opponents by stalking them. It is immature, betrays immense insecurity, is certainly not presidential, and gives one the distinct sense that he has nothing better to do. Really?
Continued behavior of this nature will, I believe, prove counterproductive. I get the sense that the AP and Steven Hurst know this, but won't own up to knowing it.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.