Another week of presidential travel and fundraising. Another round of bad polls. Another day closer to the realization by Democrats that there really is nothing President Obama can do to alter a campaign dynamic that all year has been gloomy for his party. You won't hear that acknowledgement, of course, from anybody at the White House. No one in that building ever easily admits to an inability to shape events.
Obama's press secretary Josh Earnest suggested that even after a year of extensive presidential travel and heavy fundraising, Obama has not really begun to fight. He acknowledged this week that Obama "has not begun a sustained campaign of campaign-related activities, if you will." Earnest noted a handful of times the president has been seen publicly with beleaguered candidates and indicated there will be more in the few weeks remaining before Election Day. "The president has already succeeded in making a pretty aggressive case," he said, adding, "And I would anticipate that in the context of the upcoming elections you'll hear the president make that case again."
That kind of confidence that an incumbent president's use of the bully pulpit can impact campaigns was found in other White Houses while they were under siege. There is something about being a senior White House aide that doesn't permit much talk of defeat. "I don't remember feeling frustrated or defeated in any way. I remember just feeling busy," recalled Dana Perino, who was deputy press secretary to President George W. Bush during the 2006 midterm campaign. "We did know, though, that we were pushing against history."