Wow. What a difference a year makes. Just twelve months after Barack Obama became the first Democratic Presidential candidate to win over 50% of the vote since 1964, it appears that conservatives are roaring back and that Obama is destined for the scrapheap of history reserved for one-term Presidents. To hear my fellow conservatives like Rush Limbaugh talk, it sounds like last year at this time America simply got drunk on some media-fed Kool Aide and, now that the effects have worn off, a quick return to power is as inevitable as a soft ball question from Larry King.
Conservatives, I hate to break it to you, but Barack Obama, barring an unforeseen disaster (Afghanistan?), has about as much chance of being a one-term President as Keith Olbermann has of leading the primetime lineup at Fox News Channel.
Why, in the face of so much optimism among conservatives, am I so certain about this (and, yes, just like my $100,000 offer to Keith Olbermann I am willing to put my money where my mouth is)? In short, because the evidence is overwhelmingly on my side of this argument.
First, let’s examine the current conservative “conventional wisdom.” We are told that Obama’s approval ratings have already dropped faster at this point than any president in history. That he has yet to accomplish much of anything. That the economy has not yet improved and in some ways has gotten worse. That much of the media-created illusion of Obama as New Messiah has been proven to be fraudulent. And that the conservative base is as fired up as ever to fight off the evils of socialism. If all of this has happened in just one year, conservatives rationalize, then just think how bad things will get for Obama in three more years!
However, it is in large part because of these apparent realities that Obama is as near a lock for re-election as one could be at this point in a new administration.
Think of it this way: Obama is a like a football team that has turned the ball over three times and had absolutely nothing go right and yet is still somehow up by a touchdown at the end of the first quarter and is facing an opponent with very few viable stars. How often is that team going to lose? Now think about how often that team loses when they have most of the referees (the media) on the take?
Even taking into account his very worst numbers, Obama’s approval ratings are still better than Bush 43’s were when he was re-elected and yet it is difficult to imagine how the past year could have gone worse for him politically. And I am not just talking about zero accomplishments and a lousy economy. Obama has survived several “a-ha!” moments that could have easily (and perhaps to some extent already have) resonated with the all-important “ignorant independent” voter who couldn’t tell you who the Vice President is.
There was the “throw like a girl” first pitch at the all star game followed by the alleged long-time White Sox fan not being able to tell Bob Costas the proper name of their old baseball field. Then, on live national TV in primetime, he called a white police officer “stupid” and implied he was racist without knowing what the heck he was talking about. Similarly, he was forced to get rid of racial radical and 9/11 conspiracy nut Van Jones as his head of green jobs. Then he put the prestige of the Presidency on the line and got humiliated by the International Olympic Committee while badly failing to bring home an Olympics few people seemed to really want.
These are the types of episodes that the “average” American can understand and yet, despite all of them (which, thanks to his allies in the press, I am sure have been fully absorbed by far less than 50% of the adult population), his approval ratings are still well above the critical level. If he isn’t well below 50 percent now, when the heck will he be?!