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Obama casts Congress as the problem, tells Americans to 'let them know'

Obama uses his weekly address to decry partisanship of Congress, seeking to align himself with a frustrated electorate. But his own popularity has sagged, and critics draw Jimmy Carter comparisons.

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President Obama used his Saturday radio address to take aim at Congress for gridlock and partisanship.

Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

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Facing his own presidential rough patch, President Obama used his Saturday radio address to direct criticism at Congress, telling Americans that they "deserve better" than the "partisanship and gridlock" exhibited in the government's legislative branch.

The rhetoric may have some political logic, as the president can use his bully pulpit to cast himself as aligned with a frustrated public, and as willing to lead if only Congress would give him a chance.

But the barbed message also carries political risks, since critics say Mr. Obama shares blame for the gridlock because of his own failure to lead. Another danger is that the president becomes known more for griping and commiserating than for laying out a positive direction for the country.

Over the past month, media comparisons between Obama and Jimmy Carter seem to be multiplying. Whatever you think of President Carter, the references are to a presidency that came to be seen as ineffectual.

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