WASHINGTON - President Obama and his top campaign officials have mapped out a new 2012 reelection strategy: run against an unpopular Congress.
Obama, whose job approval polls have been relentlessly stuck at around 43 percent for much of last year, thinks he can convince enough voters that Congress is the cause of all the economic ills that still plague our country.
That's right, the man Mitt Romney has been calling "the great complainer," "the great blamer," "the great excuse giver," will run on a campaign platform that his policies are blameless. Its all the fault of Congress who won't pass his latest economic stimulus plan to borrow and spend more money and raise taxes on investors, small businesses and corporations.
Forget about those lofty promises Obama made in his 2008 campaign speeches about stopping the bickering and changing the tone in Washington. White House aides told reporters last week that he is going to "double down" on what they call an "outside strategy" -- that he is fighting for the middle class against a do-nothing Congress that has become the paymaster of wealthy special interests.
It's going to get ugly, too, because when you attack the Congress, that includes everyone in it -- the Democrats who run the Senate and Republicans who control the House. What will Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi say about that?
But Obama and his aides think the best politics this year is to stay above the fray on Capitol Hill. He doesn't exactly say this, but the implied message to his fellow Democrats -- who will likely lose the Senate in November -- is, "You're on your own."
"In terms of the president's relationship with Congress in 2012... the president is no longer tied to Washington," deputy press secretary Josh Earnest told the Washington Post over the holidays.
No longer tied to Washington? Does he really think he can just walk away from three years of impotent economic stimulus bills and the voters will forget what he proposed, or that it didn't work? Or that he will be able to campaign around the country and ignore the economic and fiscal issues Congress will be dealing with over the course of the coming year?
Obama's legislative war cry last year -- "we can't wait" -- apparently has been changed to "You're gonna have to wait until I'm reelected."
But if he thinks he'll be able to convince enough voters that Congress is to blame for what ails us and that he's kept his promises, Republicans have a lethal counter-offensive strategy ready and waiting to strike back.