Obama under siege on economy 

The White House is splitting the difference on the economy -- claiming improvement while also blaming slow progress for polls showing doubt about President Obama's leadership.

"I think there is, rightly so, a great frustration in this country with the way we are economically," said White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.

While that is demonstrably true, a new ABC News/Washingon Post poll found nearly 60 percent lack faith in Obama to make the right decisions, generally.

A new CBS News poll found 54 percent disapprove of Obama's handling of the economy.

The administration this week is under siege on several fronts, including Obama's handling of the BP oil leak, the administration's oversight of relief to Haiti, concern from within the party about immigration reform, and more.

Recent polls have shown a majority of Americans disapproved of his handling of health care reform and opposed his decision to fight Arizona's immigration law in federal court.

Democratic governors recently added their voices to some lawmakers in the party expressing regret that Obama was introducing an immigration debate into the already tough midterm election season.

Piling on the indignities, Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid irked the White House when he complained to a reporter that Obama avoids confrontation and should be more "forceful" with Republicans.

And 56 percent of those who said they are likely to vote in November told ABC News' pollsters that they prefer Republican control of Congress, while 41 percent favored Democrats.

The issues run the gamut, but increasingly the White House is focusing sole blame for questions about the president's standing on the economy.

Asked repeatedly about the poll showing a loss of faith in Obama's leadership, Gibbs showed reporters a historical chart of economic recessions.

"I do think one of the things that the poll probably doesn't measure, and I don't think was intended to measure, was necessarily forcing the choice between what got us here and what is getting us out," Gibbs said.

Blaming the economy is a difficult position to take when the president is simultaneously trying to campaign on economic recovery.

On Thursday, Obama will take his economic message to Michigan, where he will talk up the benefits the stimulus has had on job creation.

Having dubbed this "Recovery Summer," the administration is promoting a message that the economy is turning around, with a good deal of credit going to Obama's $787 billion stimulus program.

But with unemployment at just below 10 percent, Americans remain doubtful. Three in four told CBS News pollsters they believe the recession will last another two years.

While the White House is focusing on the economy, other concerns persist. Although Obama gets regular briefings on the BP oil spill, he is rarely mentioning it publicly. Gibbs said Obama will nevertheless return soon to the Gulf Coast.

This week also marked the six-month anniversary of the earthquake in Haiti, bringing renewed focus on U.S. relief efforts in light of Obama's earlier promise to be a partner in that country's recovery.

"It reminds us that we have a lot of work to do," Gibbs said.

jmason@washingtonexaminer.com

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Julie Mason

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