As the SF Giants sink slowly in the West, the only team with worse-looking numbers is the re-election campaign of Barack Obama.
The G-men’s utter collapse in recent weeks (averaging only 3.3 runs a game for the season, they scored a grand total of 78 times in August – 78!) is mirrored by Obama’s polling plummet (with an aggregated 53-43 unfavorable/favorable job rating in the Real Clear Politics index, he now trails a hypothetical match-up against Rick Perry, 41-to-44).
And with the Blogosphere Boo Birds already writing off the Giants’ post-season hopes (“Stick a fork in ‘em”) the Beltway’s conventional wisdom brokers agree there’s little hope of a a re-elect (“the most likely outcome next November is the defeat of President Obama in his campaign for reelection. In fact, historical trends point towards a blowout”).
And yet . . .
Bandwagons and Bloomberg biographies: Just as Giants’ diehards (we name no names) express contempt for fair weather fans leaping off the bandwagon (“the pennant race doesn’t start until September”) so the dwindling ranks of Obama partisans insist there’s both plenty of time to pull out a victory on November 6, 2012 and a strong campaign case to be made.
Leading the uphill charge for this argument is Jonathan Alter, chief MSM apologist for the Administration. Alter, the author of a friendly Obama biography who’s now flinging words for wages at Bloomberg, ignited a Beltway flapdoodle with a recent post deconstructing the lines of attack against the president and responding that his guy did as well as anyone could have.
Like everyone else, I’ve got my list of Obama mistakes, from failing to break up the banks in early 2009 to neglecting to force a vote on ending the Bush tax cuts when the Democrats still controlled Congress. He shouldn’t have raised hopes with “Recovery Summer” and “Winning the Future” until the economy was more durable. I could go on.
But do these miscalculations really mean it’s time for him to go?
What, specifically, has he done wrong on policy? What, specifically, would you have done differently to create jobs? And what can any of the current Republican candidates offer that would be an improvement on the employment front?
Fuzzy’s piece – “You think Obama’s been a bad president? Prove it” – set off a land rush business among pundits to do exactly that, a compendium of which provide a kind of unified theory of what’s wrong with Obama.
Writing in Commentary, conservative opiner Peter Wehner proffered a damning “empirical, reality-based look at economic life” in the Age of Obama, previewing the Republican campaign:
In one sense, the answer to the Alter challenge is obvious: Obama has failed by his own standards. It’s the Obama administration, not the RNC, which said if his stimulus package was passed unemployment would not exceed 8 percent. It’s Obama who joked there weren’t as many “shovel-ready” jobs as he thought.
It’s Obama who promised to cut the deficit in half. It’s Obama who said if we passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the health care cost curve would go down rather than up. It’s Obama who promised us recovery and prosperity, hope and change. What we’ve gotten instead is the opposite.
Gluttons for either punishment or piling on, or those who are simply garden variety stat fetishists, are further advised to check out Louis Woodhill at Forbes.com, who’s talking GDP, CPI and BLS:
Executives are judged by results. In terms of the economic results produced during the first 2.5 years of his first term, Obama is the worst president of the past 60 years. Given that Alter himself would likely agree that there have been some bad presidents during the past 60 years, this makes Obama a bad president.
Our friend Mickey Kaus, the closest thing to a Blue Dog Democrat allowed to live in California, answers Alter with a superb Top 10 list which combines political, policy and process blunders that he says all but guarantee Obama will be a single-termer:
Excessively well-sourced Obama boosters are now channeling, not just White House spin but White House self-pity. Both Ezra Klein and Jonathan Alter wonder aloud why our intelligent, conscientious, well-meaning, data-driven President is taking a “pummeling.” ”What could Obama have done?” (Klein) “What, specifically, has he done wrong .. .?” (Alter)
They’re kidding, right? There are plenty of things Obama could have done differently.
Would doing these 10 things have revived the economy? Who knows. Probably not. FDR didn’t really revive the economy either until World War II began, as Alter knows. But Obama would have shown leadership and creativity. He wouldn’t be both unsuccessful and disdained.
Crafty portsiders: Michael Tomasky, the Daily Beast’s liberal analyst, whose consistently good stuff has added him to our daily must-read list, reports some interesting polling information, illustrating how badly Obama’s appeasement of Republicans on the debt deal bombed with independents, to make a broader point about the ineptness of White House political strategists:
The fundamental problem appears to be the excessive fixation on Obama’s (forgive me for even using this word) “brand”—this “adult in the room” nonsense. Whenever I see those words in print anymore, usually in a background quote from a White House aide or a Democratic source trying gamely to be on-message, I hear strong and unsettling echoes of the 2008-vintage messianism. Does anyone buy this anymore, outside of what appears to be an increasingly bubble-ized White House? Those beloved independents certainly aren’t thinking of the president that way these days, and one doubts that even most of his supporters are.
It’s tough to dispute that, especially in light of how Obama’s erstwhile lefty boosters are disgusted, whether it’s unions (“labor groups are planning to scale back their involvement with the Democratic Party in advance of the 2012 elections”), netroots progressives ( “It’s hard to see how we avoid a Tea-Party recession if the president who has the biggest megaphone in the country is not willing to speak clearly on the issue”), Democratic party careerists (“the even-keeled president has got to be ‘a lot less keep-it-cool Calvin Coolidge and a lot more give-’em-hell Harry Truman’”) or sympathetic columnists (“Obama hates to bring up the nasty fact that we have political parties, but very soon, he will have to point out that it is Republicans in Congress who are blocking his agenda”).
Even more ominously, the historian Michael Kazin, writing in the New Republic, tries to comfort Obama with assurance that he’s merely caught in a powerful, historic wave which discredits or destroys all American presidents:
In Washington, on both left and right, a new piece of conventional wisdom is hardening into place: Barack Obama’s presidency is slowly collapsing under the burdens of a bad economy, a rudderless foreign policy, and confusion about how the man who once twinkled with charisma wants to change the country. Even if the president manages to get re-elected, his chance to “win the future,” pundits agree, is probably over. Such a descent is neither a remarkable nor an exceptional development in American politics, which might provide a bit of ironic comfort to Obama as he pedals around Martha’s Vineyard. In fact, the history of the modern presidency is replete with disappointment and failure.
As for our own view, we can’t get over how poorly Obama has been served by his own communications operation. Inherited debt, health care passed, stock market recovering, Bin Laden dead, Gadhafi deposed, Egypt and Tunisia liberated and yet Obama is always on the defensive and fighting on GOP turf.
Nothing gets framed to his advantage, Republicans outmaneuver him on every argument, surrogates seem unable to advocate on his behalf. What an amateur operation — especially compared to the 2008 campaign.
It ain’t over ’til it’s over: Despite the weight of negative fact and opinion (and we hold this fundamental truth of politics to be self-evident: the conventional wisdom is always wrong), the esteemed political scientist and presidential campaign weatherman Allan Lichtman, who’s correctly forecast the outcome of every race since he invented his 13 “Keys to the White House,” predicts a no-sweat win for Obama.
Allan Lichtman, the American University professor whose election formula has correctly called every president since Ronald Reagan’s 1984 re-election, has a belated birthday present for Barack Obama: Rest easy, your re-election is in the bag.
“Even if I am being conservative, I don’t see how Obama can lose,” says Lichtman, the brains behind The Keys to the White House.
And while we’re at it, once the Giants open a can of wuppass on the first-place Arizona Diamondbacks, starting tonight, they’ll be right back in this thing. Take it to the bank.
P.S. On July 25, the day Obama met with the Giants in the White House, the team was in first place, four games ahead of the D-backs, with a record of 59-43, for a winning percentage of .578. As of this morning, they’re six games behind Arizona at 72-65, a winning percentage of .525. You could look it up.