The March of Zombie Obama
posted at 9:59 am on February 17, 2011 by Jazz Shaw
There were more than a few knee-slappers in Joe Scarborough’s Politico column this week. He brought up some uncomfortable factoids from Mitch Daniels’ biography and shared some rather odd observations about CPAC.
“Romney’s support is a mile wide and an inch deep” was a refrain repeated around the Omni Shoreham ballroom as often as “Rocky Top” gets played at Tennessee football games.
I’m not saying Romney was the belle of the ball here, but I do know that CPAC was held at the Marriott this year, not the Omni Shoreham. I know that for a fact because it’s the same Marriott where I could not find a reasonably priced room and wound up taking the Metro in from Arlington every day. (Sorry, Joe. Just couldn’t resist that one.)
One of his other observations, though, did get my rusty mental gears grinding into motion.
Still, the biggest reason prospective candidates are so reluctant to declare their candidacy in 2011 is simple: Most of them privately believe Obama will end up winning in 2012.
That reality may be hard for Republicans like me to digest, since many of us believe the president’s domestic agenda over the past two years has been a disaster. But Obama’s poll numbers paint another picture.
The most recent Fox News poll shows the president with a 51 percent approval rating at a time when real unemployment is above 10 percent.
Obama’s support among voters is hard to explain, but the impact of the reality is simple to explain. His popularity is freezing Republican candidates in their tracks.
There’s two points there to tackle. First, the idea that potential GOP candidates are “paralyzed” by some foreboding that Barack Obama is destined to win a second term is rather flimsy. From what I saw, there is a crowd of people keenly interested in grabbing the nomination. If they’re being frozen in place by anything it’s a sense of waiting to see if Palin is going to run or not. (Another possibility which Scarborough mentions, to his credit.)
But what of this phenomenon that no matter how badly things may seem to be going on many fronts, no matter how poor the president’s scorecard on specific issues, his popularity seems to remain quite strong? I know that one of the favorite pastimes of Ed Morrissey is to pick apart the cross-tabs of polls, point out that so and so was oversampled and note negative numbers on specific figures under the covers. But one thing remains clear… no matter what the “hard numbers” may be, following a prolonged dip leading up to the mid-term elections, Obama’s numbers have been trending back upward.
So is it true? Is Obama some sort of unstoppable political zombie, devouring the brains of American voters and shambling his way to inevitable victory in 2012?
It’s hard to imagine where the confidence comes from. I freely admit that I’ve given the president a bit more generous marks on foreign policy than some of my GOP friends, but on critical domestic issues it can’t be justified. In the areas of stemming unemployment, beating down the deficit and reducing spending, Obama’s scores would not see him promoted to the next grade this fall. And when it comes to energy policy a grade of F wouldn’t do him justice. His performance calls for expulsion from the school.
And yet the president retains popularity among near or above 50% of poll respondents. What will happen if some of these economic conditions begin to improve over the next twelve to fifteen months? I’m not saying he’s going to be unbeatable, but it’s going to be a stiff challenge for any candidate. And if the GOP hopes to have a chance, there’s only one thing to do. And we must act on it immediately.
It’s time to fire Reince Priebus and bring in… Miss Cleo. How else are you going to stop a zombie?
UPDATE: “Belle of the ball” works better than “bell.” Language Martinet strikes again.