(Source: AP via Fox News)
President Barack Obama is still figuring out how to turn injuries sustained by the Republican Party during the government shutdown into a lasting political strategy.
This was implied during his stump speech Sunday for Terry McAuliffe, who's running for governor of Virginia. Obama tied his opponent, Ken Cuccinelli, to the GOP's "extreme faction" that shut down the government and furloughed some 800,000 federal workers, a majority of them in the commonwealth. (McAuliffe won the election.)
"An extreme faction of the Republican Party ... has shown again and again and again that they’re willing to hijack the entire party and the country and the economy and grind progress to an absolute halt if they don’t get 100 percent of what they want," Obama said.
Wages are down, job growth is soft and our infrastructure is a mess. It's going to take more than painting Republicans as extremists. It's going to take, as Obama has said, nation-building at home. And that's going to take spending.
Politico called Obama's speech a gamble that bet on Virginians being more upset with the Republicans over the shutdown than with Obama over the botched launch of healthcare.gov. If so, it was a low-risk bet. Opinion polls uniformly blamed the GOP for the shutdown while they showed the Affordable Care Act's overall approval rating either unchanged or inching upward.
Still, Obama is about to head into budget negotiations with Republican leaders. If he's to succeed in making progress, the kind of progress he accuses Republicans of sandbagging, he must fight for a positivist government that serves workaday Americans. Median wages are down (the lowest since 1998), job growth is soft and our infrastructure is a mess. It's going to take more than painting Republicans as extremists. It's going to take, as Obama has said before, a lot of nation-building at home. And that's going to take spending.