Updates in response to recent news about Egypt, Syria, Obama focused messages, and Governor Christies new low-profile
This post will feature short follow-ups on some recent post subjects. News are coming in fast and short updates seem more efficient than a series of new posts on each issue. This is a political and social commentary post after all, albeit from a pragmatic liberal perspective, and it’s in the nature of the subject matter for quick changes to occur.
The Cabinet of Prime Minister Hazem Beblawi abruptly resigned this past week. The reasons for that were not immediately clear. But it appears that he has been offered up as a scapegoat for a shaky economy marred by an unusually large number of strikes. Denying that his government has been impotent, Beblawi, as a parting shot made the assertion that, “The cabinet has over the past six or seven months shouldered a very difficult responsibility…(and) in most cases the results were good.” His fall was no doubt in part caused by the slow rate of progress in dealing with the economy. But it also reflected a lack of unity among the groups that originally came together in opposition to the Presidency of Muslim Brotherhood backed Mohamed al-Morsi. How this jockeying for position plays out in terms of the Military’s ability to include the majority of those diverse opposition groups, each with their own political agenda, under one umbrella remains to be seen. Nonetheless, the fall of Beblawi’s government is unlikely to stall General Abdul al-Sisi’s march to the Presidency. His popularity has, so far, not appeared to wane.
Obama focused messages
Though President Obama still gives some time to praising the Affordable Health Care Act-commonly known as Obamacare-there is as yet no focused message either from the White House or from the Party’s legislators. What is needed is a coordinated effort, by both the President and Party functionaries, to sell the country on the benefits of Obamacare. If talking points have been handed out there certainly has been no visible coordination in that effort. Low marks for Obamacare are likely to carry over to other areas of support for the President and for the Congressional elections in November. Another that this would be the case was revealed this week in a Gallup Poll finding that a majority of people (53%) now have a negative view the President’s respect among world leaders (used as a measure of their own views on his handling of foreign affairs). Respect on the world stage has been one one of the few sunny areas for Obama, even in the face of negative ratings on other issues. For it to disappear should signal a huge warning sign for Democrats. It’s time for a unified and highly focused campaign in support of Obamacare. Failure to do so will continue to erode the public’s view of the Party on a range of issues with electoral consequences.
In an effort to rebuild his image, Chris Christie maintained an extremely low profile at the Republican Governors Association meeting last week. He avoided high profile meetings where he would have to face the press. He even left early, ostensibly to help his daughter celebrate a birthday. A recent poll showed that a majority of those polled (57%) now grade his handling of the recovery from Sandy as mediocre to failing. Five months ago a vast majority (72%) gave him a good to excellent rating. Poll watchers will recognize that this abrupt about face reflects more about overall attitudes with respect to Christie, in the face of recent scandals, than his actual handling of the recovery. He has a steep hill to climb to get back in the public’s graces. Lowering his current profile seems like a useful step in a daunting task.
As we feared, talks with Syria, at least thus far, have gone poorly with respect to getting Assad to step down—a fundamental requirement of the opposition. And with the U.S., pulling back from the brink of direct support, the opposition has moved to fill the vacuum by including the more conservative Islamist groups. Thus our foreign policy now faces three fronts: 1) Continuing with the Peace Talks, 2) Trying to undo the damage done by trying to form a wedge between the Islamist groups and the secular ones, 3) Reassuring the opposition forces of our support with military supplies and minimal ground presence, while at the same time fearing that some of those supplies will find their way to the Islamist groups that we don’t back. A difficult tight-wire to walk.
Given the fresh breaking news about The Ukraine, our next blog will deal with that crisis.
Martin, The Pragmatic Liberal writing on pragmaticliberalism.com