May 18th, 2010
08:11 PM ET
12 years ago

Dem strategist gives Obama's rhetoric a 'C+'

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption=" Democrat Paul Begala called on the president to elevate his rhetoric and hit back harder against Republicans."]
Washington (CNN) – Democratic strategist and CNN contributor Paul Begala gave President Obama’s appearance in Youngstown, Ohio Tuesday a “C+” on the partisanship scale.

Earlier: Obama rips stimulus opponents

Speaking on CNN’s John King, USA, Begala called on the president to elevate his rhetoric and hit back harder against Republicans or else the Democrats run the risk of losing big in the midterm elections this November.

While discussing how presidential approval ratings can affect a party’s midterm electoral success, Begala explained how former President Ronald Reagan set the standard for the modern era by losing only 28 congressional seats despite sporting a 42 percent approval rating in the 1982 midterms.

“As unemployment went up and Reagan’s approval rating went down, he kept saying liberal economic policies have ruined this country,” Begala said. “And he explained, I’m against taxation and litigation and regulation and I’m for tax cuts and deregulation. He made his case on a philosophical level.

“[President Obama] is uniquely able to do that and so I don’t want him down there at the operational level. I want him to frame up the philosophy that the Democrats and most independents think ruined the country in the eight years the Republicans had the House, the Senate and the White House.”

Filed under: 2010 • JKUSA • John King USA • Popular Posts • President Obama
soundoff (71 Responses)
  1. Ohio Dem

    Actually, all his rhetoric is turning me off! I voted for him and the Dems in Congress have absolutely killed him politically. And all of his excuses are getting a little boring. I gave Bush the early 2000 stock bubble even though he had only been in office a couple of months. In all reality that bubble was more than a year in the making and should have belonged to Clinton. But I wouldn't let Bush out of it. Right now, I get the feeling Bush will be Obama's excuse 30 years from now. I am getting tired of it. Coming from someone who voted for you, "GROW A PAIR!"...

    May 18, 2010 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  2. Walter

    People are already convinced that the economy isn't getting better and blaming the party out of power is a last ditch gasp from a party whose ideas have been summarily rejected by a majority of the population. If anything calling Republicans the "party of no" simply reflects the fact that Republicans, like most Americans, are not happy with the way things are going. Regardless of whether Obama listens to Begala the Dems are going to be decimated in November.

    May 18, 2010 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  3. valwayne

    The radical arrogant left wing Elites haven't had enough polarization, arrogance, sarcasm, and divisiveness from Obama. For divisiveness and polorization I give him an A+++, and I think he's a disaster!

    May 18, 2010 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  4. Sam

    Ticker: Democrat gives Obama a C+

    That was your headline on CNN's home page, leading people to believe that a Democratic congressman gave Obama a C+ on his job performance, either for this year, to this point, or on a certain issue.

    Instead, once clicked, we find out that talking head Paul Begala (who I like) gave a speech a slightly above average grade on a partisanship scale.

    On the honesty scale, I give you an F.

    May 18, 2010 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  5. Carrotroot

    This is not 1982 were the President can just paint a pretty picture of his party and expect people to believe him, voters have much greater access to information about how their Representatives vote - basically each politician is responsible for their own actions ... there is nothing the President can do to whitewash this.

    May 18, 2010 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  6. INCA

    Begala is a dunce. People are revolting against Obama. And he wants him to hit harder?? Good Grief

    May 18, 2010 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  7. Fitz in Texas

    Oblamer is a one term president and that's the good news.

    May 18, 2010 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  8. President Obama's "porkulus" package is bringing home the bacon!

    I agree Begala, the President needs to point all lies and they hypocrisy of the party of NO.

    For example, Howdy Doody Ears in LA was against the "porkulus" package, but he was front and center in a photo op in Caldwell Parish when the fund provided "the bacaon" to upgrade the local airport.

    Keep calling them out when they lie like tha Imohfe moron tonight wanting to NOT remove the cap on big oil penalities.

    He will cost the taxpayers billions to do the clean up if the cap is not raised.

    Hopefully, his idiocy will be pointed loudly and often. President O got at good start tonight!.

    Keep it up!

    May 18, 2010 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  9. Dave

    And I agree... Obama has been way too nice to the GOP and their Congressional leadership. It was them who gave us two unending wars and it was them who destroyed this country's economy. Now all they can do is complain about how Obama and the Democrats are fixing their messes. Then again, that's all they are good for.

    May 18, 2010 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  10. Patrick

    CNN, the title of this article is misleading. "Dem gives Obama a C+" leads your readers to believe this grade evaluates Obama's overall performance in the Oval office, whereas the news itself has nothing to do with that.

    May 18, 2010 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  11. cwalk

    send this man to the white houseto work.he is right.keep hamering this message mr.president.

    May 18, 2010 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  12. Andrew from Cincinnati

    He is all rhetoric. That is his problem and Independents see that he hasn't cut spending. It is the same reason the Republicans were trounced in 2008.

    May 18, 2010 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  13. RBINTN

    A C+ is charitable. The Democrats face huge losses in November, primarily because of their unwillingness to focus on the economy and the unemployed. Poll after poll has shown these issues at the forefront of concerns for the American electorate. As James Carville taught Pres GHW Bush, "It's the economy, stupid". Democrats should redirect stimulus funds immediately to road and bridge repair and other infrastructure projects. They should extend unemployment benefits through 2010, with a new Tier V for the long-term unemployed.

    May 18, 2010 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  14. USN

    What has it done..nothing, We have turned the corner ... 8 times? according to the prez ?

    May 18, 2010 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  15. The Big J

    This article was just plain silly! Where can I apply for a job that I can just make things up & given my own story in CNN's Ticker?

    May 18, 2010 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  16. Bill

    Paul Begala is a Democratic strategist and President Obama is President of the United States, some us are sick and tired of strategists on either side telling politicians to heat up the rhetoric. All elected officials should just govern as they see best for the country not as they see through the narrow lens of either party, not going to happen, I know but I wish the pundits like Begala or those on the right would just get out of the way and let leaders, like the president, lead. I realize that this is a wasted few minutes of my time but I said it nonetheless.

    May 18, 2010 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  17. usualone

    Mr. Begala is so correct; the President has to really hit hard on his points. It seems like too many Americans only understand that tactical approach as being successful. He probably doesn't want people to think he is a certain type of person because of others' bias about his race. The truth is that those types, who appear too much in print, are always going to detest the President. If he hits harder those who haven't really been paying attention to his successes will wake up and consider the consequences of the alternatives.

    May 18, 2010 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |

    This man will never score higher he is a disgrace to America.

    May 18, 2010 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  19. Independant from IA

    If Obama wants to help, he needS to keep his mouth shut and ALSO keep his presence at a great distance. He has some sort of a disasterous effect on the voters as they are suffering from voters remorse.

    It is time for Common Sense to run this country and make it great as it was in the past again. The path to upheval we are on does not set
    well at all with WE The PEOPLE!!

    May 18, 2010 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  20. S, C, Clarke

    Thanks a lot Begala – since you are a Democrat you could
    have given President Obama a B – I forgot you were a
    Hilary Clinton supporter. You want President Obama to
    One thing I give to the Republicans no matter how ridiculous
    their stance they stand by the members of their party. I forgot
    President Obama is not the ordinary President he is our
    first African American President – I true African American.

    May 18, 2010 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  21. FIX & CLEAN - UP the Bush's mess

    It will takes 20 or more years to FIX & CLEAN – UP what Bush did to the Nation.

    May 18, 2010 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  22. PT

    We have a wonderful leader who will prove to the electorate how right his decisions are, but we need to recognize he is only human. He is smart, and a workaholic, doing all he can do to rectify the terrible state of affairs he was left with. I pray for our president every day.

    May 18, 2010 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  23. DrFood

    Who is Paul Begala, and why should we care what he thinks about?

    May 18, 2010 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
  24. Ray, Florida

    President Obama would not have to 'hit back harder' as Paul Begala said if the Democratic congress became the party of 'yes' to counter the Republican party of 'no'. Mr. Obama does not have the help that he should have with a majority in power.

    May 18, 2010 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  25. Jonathan

    That is absolutely right.
    Obama seems to be floundering up there on capitol hill.
    Without a clear message, and leadership for the country, our presdient is doomed to ride the political waveof discontent right out of the White House. Our country needs a leader who can get things done in Washington. My fear is that it is too late for anyone to be able to do that. Washington has just become too much about the filthy money, with barely a glint of goodness left to be seen.

    May 18, 2010 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
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