Tuesday, October 04, 2011

The Luckiest Man On The Face Of The Earth

Now, this is no knock on President Obama. I think he's done a good job in office, especially given the mess he was left with: he's passed some signature legislation that will matter for decades in the progressive agenda.
I think he could have done more, but that's a personal opinion.
And I think he's been hammered hard from the right for being competent. The grand machine that somehow tarred a decorated war hero as a coward and fraud is not silent, and has had a big hand in smearing the President's image.
So while his re-election should be a cakewalk, it's not. His approval ratings have sunk, largely because of the appearance of ineffectuality, summoned in large part by a Congress that is lazy and cowardly.
Why is he so lucky, then? Here's why: he basically gets to choose his opponent.
Now, I'm not suggesting that a black President would be the one to plant a story in the WaPo about "Niggerhead," or that President Obama would prefer to run against Herman Cain rather than Rick Perry or Mitt Romney. I think he matches up well against anyone in the Republican field, and even some who still have the shrinkwrap around them, like Christie.
It is interesting to me that the Republicans have such an incredibly weak field of contenders, that's why I think Obama gets to choose his opponent. Anyone with a brain who is Republican isn't going to run and have to pander to the drooling mobs of half-hearted patriots, and then pivot and run a general election campaign, knowing that all the pandering they did will come back to haunt them. Like it or not, even as far right as this nation has shifted, independent voters still make up the lion's share of uncommitted votes, and independent voters do not like hatred.
Joe Klein highlights this in his column in Time magazine:

A week ago, the owner of a furniture store in Conway, Ark., asked me, "Why don't you media people, especially the cable news, ever ask politicians what they agree on? Why is it always about disagreements?" The folks in Ellston thought that was a very good idea. It's one I'll take home. But it's also a lesson that politicians, even extremists like Bachmann, should heed: the Americans who feel most ignored these days are not the screamers. They are the solid citizens who are sick to death of pols who play to the rant.


The odd thing about the political landscape is how much the people on the left and the people on the right and the people in the middle agree on things: this nation has gotten out of control of the people, money now rules politics which means corporations now rule politics, and the rhetoric you hear from the right echoes the rhetoric you hear from the left.

The disagreements are deep, to be sure. To make the ludicrous claim that the richest one percent pay 20% of the taxes-- while they *earn* over 1000% more in  income-- is pandering of the worst kind. The left has it more right than the right, to be sure. That's why I haven't abandoned my liberal principles.

But I digress...

You'd think, as weak as Obama's approval ratings make him appear, the Republicans would be six deep trying to run against him, and yet people you might expect to run, like Condoleeza Rice or Marco Rubio, remain oddly out of the spotlight.

One has to wonder why. My guess would be the volatile nature of the GOP voting base: there's a power struggle going on. One thing Republicans hae always been very very good at is keeping internal discipline even when the walls are crumbling. It happened during the last years of the Bush administration. You never heard about how Bush was a liberal until after he'd left office.

You won't hear about this split until it cleaves the party in two. You're starting to see signs of this: Jim Jeffords was a pioneer, of course, but David Frum has all but abandoned the GOP, Lamar Alexander has resigned what leadership posts he holds in the Senate, and now the long-time head of the Florida Republican party is leaving to take a consulting job. The rats, such as they are, are abandoning ship.

2012 could see a GOP decimated by internal strife and proven deadly wrong on so many of their cherished beliefs (as expressed in the primary run) that they'll be lucky to hold onto the House.

And then, it will be up to Obama to do SOMEthing about the nation.