Maybe that will change. Maybe these allegations will start getting traction with voters. But it might just be that Americans are more focused on an economy that is gradually coming out of the longest and deepest economic downturn since the Great Depression. Most economists say the current quarter will show a slowdown in economic growth from the first quarter’s 2.5 percent pace, but they expect the economy to be stronger in the second half of this year. People may be encouraged by housing prices rising and the stock market setting record highs—and their retirement accounts may actually be looking better. The University of Michigan’s widely watched Consumer Sentiment Index is at the highest level since 2007, before the recession. The Conference Board’s more volatile Consumer Confidence Index is also generally moving up, although it isn’t at the record level of the Michigan index. The National Federation of Independent Business’s Index of Small Business Optimism, which took a deep plunge after the election, increased last month and is on an upward trend since the beginning of the year. Maybe the people and businesses polled have written off Washington as a political cesspool, and so these stories don’t affect them much. Perhaps they see this town as a place that can’t seem to get anything right.
One wonders how long Republicans are going to bark up this tree, perhaps the wrong tree, while they ignore their own party’s problems, which were shown to be profound in the most recent elections. Clearly none of these recent issues has had a real impact on voters yet. Republicans seem to be betting everything on them, just as they did in 1998—about which even Newt Gingrich (who was House speaker that year) commented recently to NPR, “I think we overreached in ’98.”
Republicans and conservatives who are so consumed by these “scandals” should ask themselves why, despite wall-to-wall media attention and the constant focus inside the Beltway—some are even talking about grounds for impeachment—Obama’s job-approval needle hasn’t moved.