Dog days in Washington

It’s family holiday elsewhere, but they’re feeling the heat in and around Washington.

July doesn’t bode well for President Obama in yet another summer of discontent, according to NBC News.

In the five years we’ve been covering Barack Obama on the national stage — first as a presidential candidate, now as the president — he’s always experienced his toughest months in the summer, particularly in July. In the summer of ‘07, he was trailing Hillary Clinton in the primary horserace, and donors were whining about lack of movement; in the summer of ‘08, he saw his poll lead over John McCain narrow as he struggled not to look like he was being coronated; in the summer of ‘09, we saw those health-care town halls; and in the summer of ‘10, the Greek debt crisis and the BP spill helped lock in what was going to be a brutal midterm season for the Democrats. You’ve been able to see it in his poll numbers, too. The summer of ’09, according to the NBC/WSJ survey, was when Obama’s approval rating declined from the 60s to the low 50s. And in the summer of ’10, it went from the low 50s to the mid-40s. He’s now at 49%, per our latest poll.

How the White House is trying to minimize any summer pain: And this summer has the potential to be another summer of Barack Obama’s discontent, especially with the polarizing and high-stakes debate over the debt ceiling. But the White House is doing a few things to try to minimize any damage. For starters, they’re not traveling overseas as they did in the summers of ’09 and ’10; don’t underestimate the impact of the president’s absence and the impact of him being in DC this year to be more responsive to Capitol Hill madness. In addition, they’re trying to reframe the debate on their terms — something they never were able to do on health care. Wednesday’s news conference was the first try to be on offense; it’s why it took many by surprise. All that said, Obama IS headed to Camp David for the weekend after scolding Congress to roll up its sleeves on the debt ceiling…

Will Geithner leave? Bloomberg News was the first to report it yesterday. “[Geithner] signaled to White House officials that he’s considering leaving the administration after President Barack Obama reaches an agreement with Congress to raise the national debt limit, according to three people familiar with the matter.” But in an appearance with former President Bill Clinton at a Clinton Global Initiative event last night, Geithner said he would remain in his position for the “foreseeable future.” Bottom line: We’re told it’s accurate that Geithner is “thinking about it,” but we’re also told not to read as much into it as some others are…

But it would be a big surprise if Geithner did actually leave before the election. Why? Do note that confirming a new Treasury secretary would be very difficult — and painful — for the White House, because the confirmation hearings would only serve to re-litigate the administration’s economic policies at a time the presidential campaign is getting started. Obama cannot afford this, period.

(well that’s an interesting admission)

And if Geithner did leave, other cabinet secretaries who also may be burning out would raise their hand, too. It’s a snowball effect that would take a toll on the West Wing.  Of course, the West Wing is still struggling with USING its Cabinet secretaries effectively; perhaps this Geithner scare will re-focus those efforts.

Anybody getting the sense that this country acted on the visceral reaction to sheer slogans in the last election? And that it’s been painfully obvious and getting clearer for a long time?


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