"Every President Has a Communications Problem."

This, I think, is the key paragraph in Robert Draper's profile of Robert Gibbs:

Panic-stricken Democrats, fearful of losing both the House and the Senate in this month's elections, can console themselves with a perspective check. "Every president has a communications problem," says former Clinton senior adviser Joel Johnson, who points out that at this point in their respective presidencies, Obama's approval rating of 44 eclipses those of Clinton and Reagan. Adds former Clinton press secretary Joe Lockhart, "Honestly, the guy could walk on water and there'd be exposés on 'What's in the water?' I think they've taken the proper view, which is that they're going to get judged once, and that's in November 2012." [Emphasis mine]

Barack Obama's problem isn't that he can't "connect" with voters or that his administration is too "aloof"; it's that he leads an incumbent party in a time of high unemployment and low growth. Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton faced similar conditions, suffered similar losses, and were plagued by a media conversation that was identical to this one. You would think that political commentators would notice the pattern, but that might be too much to ask.

-- Jamelle Bouie

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