WASHINGTON -- A rattled tone of desperation has taken hold of President Obama's once self-confident rhetoric as he struggles to rally his party's dispirited political base.
With the Gallup daily tracking poll showing his job approval score falling to 39 percent over the weekend, Obama shocked Congressional Black Caucus Democrats at a dinner Saturday with an intemperate scolding for daring to criticize his mishandling of the economy.
"I don't have time to feel sorry for myself. I don't have time to complain," he told the assembled black leaders. "I am going to press on. I expect all of you to march with me. ... Stop complaining, stop grumbling, stop crying."
It was a stunning display of a deeply frustrated president coming unglued, an outburst that the national news media went to great lengths to hide in their news reports Sunday. Incredibly, The Washington Post buried Obama's petulant, insensitive remarks in the 32nd graph of of its story.
No sector of the electorate has suffered more from his failed, jobless policies than black Americans, whose bleak unemployment levels are now at nearly 17 percent, and more than 20 percent when part-time workers are added to the equation.
He can no longer blame George W. Bush. When Obama took office in January 2009, black unemployment was 11.5 percent. The worsening economic plight of the black community has eroded his support among what once was his most loyal constituency.
A Washington Post-ABC News poll last week found "the proportion of blacks expressing strongly positive views of Obama has dropped 25 points since mid-April -- from 83 percent to 58 percent. His "favorable" score plunged below 50 percent among younger blacks between the ages of 18 to 29.
Fiery Rep. Maxine Waters of California, the first black leader in Congress to openly criticize Obama's record on job creation, has been pleading with black congressional leaders to break their political silence over the president's impotent economic policies. "I felt we had to stop shoving it under the rug," she said at a CBC jobs fair in Detroit last week.
The central complaint among black leaders has been that he hasn't directly addressed high black unemployment over the course of his presidency. There's been a growing feeling among disappointed black voters that Obama took them for granted, believing they would always be there for him, no matter how much they have suffered from his inept unemployment policies.
His imperious order that "I expect all of you to march with me," no matter what the circumstances, was an insult to the dignity of his black supporters -- treating them like they were children. Do as I say and do it now!
This was the same imperious tone that he used in his recent address to a joint session of Congress on his latest $447 billion jobs plan, virtually ordering lawmakers to pass his jobs bill "immediately."
Such is the naivete of a former freshman senator who spent little time, if any, learning the political complexities of the legislative process before he threw himself completely into a national book-promotion speaking tour that grew into a presidential campaign.
Does Obama really think scolding is a form of presidential leadership? That you can order Congress to pass a nearly half-trillion-dollar jobs bill, even after his first $800 billion jobs plan turned out to be a costly failure?
This week he was on a frenzied, fence-mending tour to re-energize his deflated liberal base, attacking Republicans -- with a straight face -- for playing politics with the nation's economy.
That means playing the political class warfare game to the hilt by peddling the Democrats' favorite myth -- that millionaires and billionaires are taxed at a lower rate than nurses, teachers, secretaries, even janitors. It's a preposterous claim with no basis in fact, but these are desperate times that call for desperate politics.
In fact, if you ask the IRS if this is true, it will tell you that people with adjusted gross incomes of more than $1 million paid an average of 23.3 percent in income taxes in 2008, while those earning between $50,000 and $100,000 paid 8.9 percent. Half of all taxpayers paid no federal income taxes.
Wealthier people like billionaire Warren Buffett may pay a lower tax rate on personal income than others in lower income brackets because much of it comes from dividends and capital gains, which are taxed at 15 percent. But many ordinary Americans who are by no means rich, particularly retirees, also pay the same rate from stocks they bought over a lifetime of work.
However, Obama's tax collectors wouldn't go after just wealthy Americans, but also every small-business employer who makes more than $200,000 a year. These are the job creators of our economy. Raise taxes on them, and we will get even fewer jobs than we're getting now.
Obama says his soak the rich proposals are all about fairness and math, but the Congressional Budget Office says the wealthiest 10 percent of income earners pay more than half of all federal income taxes.
The American people aren't fooled by Obama's new math. When Gallup asked voters last week to compare Obama's job performance with George W. Bush's, 34 percent said he was worse than Bush, and 22 percent said there was no difference between the two.