Let's be honest, you'd have to be drunk on political Kool-aid not to think that, um, this hasn't been the greatest summer for President Obama. This weekend's kowtowing in the Van Jones affair is the latest sign of the inherent flaws in the White House's quaint notion of bipartisanship, which is the political equivalent of bringing nail clippers to a gun fight. His handling of health care is either a brilliant political rope-a-dope (3 percent chance) or badly botched (97 percent). His fiery speech yesterday (video below) to organized labor was one small step back in the right direction, but we'll see if he takes one giant leap in his speech tomorrow night -- I'm not holding my breath.
But -- even though I believe it was by accident and not by design -- I think that Obama's speech to schoolchildren is his biggest political victory of the summer, and he hasn't even delivered it yet. Why? The fierce opposition to the president's speech on kids' working hard and taking responsibility is coming from the brightest, bloody crimson red counties of Red America, pockets of Texas and Georgia that wouldn't vote for Obama in 2012 if he brokered peace between Israel and Palestine and then led a commando mission to capture Osama bin Laden after announcing that he's discovered a cure for cancer in his spare time at Camp David.
Meanwhile, the over-the-top crazy talk about "socialist indoctrination" and calling the president a "Pied Piper" ready to march America's youth off a cliff behind a banner of Chairman Mao has served as a reminder to the nation's moderate voters -- the slim middle that actually decides elections -- of why they abandoned the GOP in 2006 and 2008, For every NASCAR dad in Mississippi who's keeping his kid home from school today, there are three soccer moms in swing states like Ohio shaking their heads at what has happened to "the party of Lincoln." Now, semi-responsible Republicans like Newt Gingrich and even Jim Greer, the Florida Republican leader who helped start all of this, are backpeddling like crazy, but the damage has been done.
Now, if Team Obama can somehow stumble into a plan for a public option and for real healthcare reform that benefits people and not insurance lobbyists...