President Barack Obama is scheduled to head to Camp David for the weekend before delivering a Labor Day speech in Detroit. This comes on the heels of a horrendous August that saw the president’s poll numbers crash, his political opponents surge, and the economy stop growing.
“It is clearly not a month he’ll look back on fondly,” L.A. Times reporter Matea Gold said on MSNBC Friday morning.
Just-released employment numbers show the U.S. economy netted no new jobs in August, following the creation of only 105,000 jobs between June and July. The national unemployment rate remains at 9.1 percent, while unemployment among Africans-Americans jumped from 15.9 percent in July to 16.7 percent in August.
Gallup’s September 1 results showed Obama’s daily tracking polls had lurched down to 50 percent disapproval and 42 percent approval. In early July, that polling showed disapproval at 45 percent and approval at 46 percent.
Simultaneously, the GOP’s presidential field narrowed to two established candidates, both of whom are already running even with Obama in the polls. An Aug. 31 poll conducted by Quinnipiac University had Texas Gov. Rick Perry at 42 percent against Obama’s 45 percent, and Gov. Mitt Romney even with Obama at 45 percent.
Obama’s own base is beginning to fragment. Union leaders have announced they will be redirecting money from Obama’s race to fund their own state-level campaigns intended to protect union advocates from angry voters and budget-cutting lawmakers.
Democratic House members are also beginning to edge away from Obama. Oregon’s Democratic Rep. Pete DeFazio recently criticized the president during a meeting with his constituents, and New York’s Democratic Rep. Bill Owens has refused to endorse the president.
Obama’s approval number among Hispanics has fallen into the 40s, and African-American political advocates are carefully criticizing his policies. “We are clearly, clearly headed in the wrong direction … we’re at depression-level [unemployment] numbers for African Americans,” said Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus.
Cleaver and other Democrats are hoping the president can use his upcoming Labor Day speech, and his Sept. 8 speech to a joint session of Congress to lay out an agenda that would seize the political initiative, and put the GOP on the defensive.
But there’s no sign yet that the speeches will be significantly different, or more politically effective, than Obama’s earlier calls for infrastructure spending and tax-incentives for hiring.
Shortly after the August jobs report was released, for example, White House economic adviser Katharine Abraham released a statement echoing those previous speeches. “Next week, the President will lay out a series of additional bipartisan steps that Congress can take immediately to put more money in the paychecks of working and middle class families; to make it easier for small businesses to hire workers; to put construction crews to work rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure; and other measures that will help the economy grow while still reducing our deficit and getting our fiscal house in order.”