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Stand by Your Man

A Commentary By Susan Estrich

The headlines on the Drudge Report make it sound worse than it is: "Blacks, liberals flee in droves." And underneath: "Sanders (that's Bernie Sanders, the Independent from Vermont): Obama should face primary challenger." And above: "Obama's Base Crumbles."

The truth is that with Washington still unable to reach an agreement on the deficit and the budget, with the game of chicken continuing to a point that no parent would allow out on a playground, everyone's base is crumbling. Confidence in politicians of both stripes is dropping and understandably so.

On the Democratic side, a Washington Post-ABC News poll finds that the number of liberal Democrats who "strongly support" President Obama's record on jobs has dropped from 53 percent last year to 31 percent today; among African Americans, the number who believe he's helped the economy is down from 77 percent in October to just more than 50 percent now.

The Republicans are actually faring worse. More people (65 percent) fault congressional Republicans for their handling of the economy than blame the president (52 percent). And a majority still blames former President George W. Bush for the country's economic woes.

So with all due respect to Sanders, a primary challenge for the incumbent president would not be a "good idea," at least for those of us who are not yearning for a return to the "W" years. Deserting the president "in droves," if that's how you want to describe it, doesn't help anyone. The blame game goes nowhere. It encourages precisely the sort of no-win politics that is paralyzing Washington during this long, hot summer.

I was talking to a very smart reporter the other day who pointed out -- rightly, I think -- that at another time, the markets would have stepped in and solved the problems. At another time, the concern that America's biggest companies and biggest employers would suffer if Washington couldn't get its act together would have forced legislators to take action. Nothing like a huge drop in the Dow to get everyone's attention.

But today, these aren't America's biggest companies; they're global giants whose survival doesn't depend on a budget deal in Washington. The bond market won't move when people are concerned that returns could go down, not up. If our rating goes from AAA to AA, that will just mean we're in the same category as Japan and China.

We have to save ourselves, and we won't do it by acting like the children in Washington.

Where I come from, loyalty is not about standing by your man when times are good. That's not loyalty; it's just common sense. It's not the hard thing to do; it's the easy thing to do.

Loyalty is about tough times, tough decisions, standing by your man on the hard days.

I don't like the economy any more than the next person. I'm blessed to be secure, to be able to pay my bills and educate my kids, but believe me, that isn't true for many of the people around me, for family and friends. When unemployment is as high as it is, when housing prices have dropped as low as they have, no one is untouched. But that's not a reason to desert a president who has kept his promises and is struggling to secure a deal that will not betray those most in need.

I don't approve of everything the president has done. Who would? He's not my puppet. But I strongly disapprove of any Democrat who stands up to try to block his re-election because they think that somehow they could do better. If it were easy, we'd all be on the beach, including President Obama.


See Other Political Commentaries.

See Other Commentaries by Susan Estrich.

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