The Disintegration of Barack Obama
In which I atone for pessimism . . .
In an earlier post, I laid out a few cautionary points regarding fact that the race for president seems to be turning decidedly in Romney’s favor. For many weeks, I have been telling people that it is Romney’s to lose, and not to believe any hype about Obama’s invincibility. Finally, the media and pundits are coming around to the same notion, and so what do I do? Rather than revel in it, I offer a few notes of caution about the media’s ability to spin things for Obama at the slightest hint of positive economic news.
That may seem like a quick turnaround on my part, but it isn’t. Skyscrapers have large internal counterweights near their tops, designed to stabilize the building when it is pressed upon by high winds. That’s all I’m doing. I believe the race is Romney’s to lose, and I’ve been cautioning against too much pessimism for a while now . . . but we should not swing wildly in the other direction either. We have to be ready for it when the media tries to spin little bits of news in a desperate attempt to buoy Obama’s sinking vessel. If it’s actual good news, then fine, but the media is also known to take moldy crumbs and bake them into loaves that are surprisingly palatable to those who are less informed on the specifics. It is very important not to forget that, and to respond quickly. Spinning drops in the labor force participation rate as positive news for the economy is not acceptable.
That being said, there is a great deal about which to be very positive right now, and like a good skyscraper counterweight, I’d like to provide a roundup of some recent examples.
Remember, Team O dropped a cool $25 million in ad spending last month. Their dividend thus far has been … a series of tightening polls, capped by today’s Gallup tracker showing Romney ahead by two nationally. Dude, is this happening?
Yes, of course it’s happening. Obama has felt like a long national nightmare, and sometimes maybe it feels like one won’t ver wake up. But seriously, one has to ask oneself—how popular could Obama really be? His record is abysmal by any standard, by the left’s, the right’s, and even by the compromise-obsessed middle’s. The national situation is not good. Obama hasn’t really been that pleasant a president—there have been numerous times when he’s seemed petty and small. Given all of that, and given the fact that the American people have a relatively non-threatening choice in Mitt Romney, it seems likely that the polls should continue to shift as people warm up to the notion of making a change at the White House.
Then, there’s the stress and strain within the Democratic Party. Wisconsin has made it worse, but it was brewing for a while beforehand.
President Obama, I have frequently argued, has been fabulous for the conservative movement. He spurred the creation of the tea party. He helped the GOP win the House majority in 2010 and make big gains in the Senate. His Obamacare has helped revive the Commerce Clause and given a boost to conservative jurisprudence. His refusal to support human rights has caused a bipartisan revulsion and reminded us that foreign policy must be girded by American values. He’s sent independents running into the GOP’s arms. He’s forced conservatives to think hard and express eloquently principles of religious liberty, limited government, free markets and Constitutional democracy.
Obama also has wreaked havoc in the the Democratic Party. He’s firmly affixed the “tax and spend” label to it after Bill Clinton declared that the era of big government was over. He’s made Clinton into a pitch man for Mitt Romney. His rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline has split the party. His refusal to adopt the Simpson-Bowles commission’s recommendations has turned Democrats into reactionaries, defending the status quo on entitlements. He’s alienated Jewish voters. He’s re-McGovernized the party, which now stands for appeasing despotic powers, turning on allies and slashing defense spending . . . keep reading
Schadenfreude . . . am I spelling that right?
It’s bye-bye, Beltway for Cory Booker.
Newark’s mayor, who was gunning for a spot in President Obama’s Cabinet, lost the chance after he shot his mouth off during a blunderingly honest TV appearance last month, sources told The Post.
“He’s dead to us,” one ranking administration official said of the prevailing feelings at the White House and Obama headquarters in Chicago.
Tuesday, June 5, 2012, will be remembered as the beginning of the long decline of the public-sector union. It will follow, and parallel, the shrinking of private-sector unions, now down to less than 7 percent of American workers. The abject failure of the unions to recall Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) — the first such failure in U.S. history — marks the Icarus moment of government-union power. Wax wings melted, there’s nowhere to go but down.
The ultimate significance of Walker’s union reforms has been largely misunderstood. At first, the issue was curtailing outrageous union benefits, far beyond those of the ordinary Wisconsin taxpayer. That became a nonissue when the unions quickly realized that trying to defend the indefensible would render them toxic for the real fight to come.
The demise of public employee unions. The ultimate failure of their arguments. The rise of constitutional, limited government conservatism, and more. Fun!
In other words, what I’ve called the “coalition of the ascendant” that elected Obama in 2008 largely held together for Barrett in 2011. If non-college whites, college-educated whites, and minorities all voted the same way they did in Wisconsin Tuesday night, but were present in the proportions they are likely to constitute in the November election, Obama would win nationally by about the same margin he did last time.
Barrett’s problem was that there are not enough of those voters to win in Wisconsin. Non-college whites cast a 54 percent majority of the votes in Wisconsin last night, virtually unchanged from their share in 2010 and 2008. College whites edged up to 37 percent last night (from 35 percent in the previous two contests) and minorities dipped to just nine percent.
In key metal-bending states across the Rustbelt, Obama could face the same numbers problem Barrett did. Walker’s commanding showing among blue-collar whites reinforces the consistent evidence in polling that those voters appear poised to reject the president in overwhelming, perhaps unprecedented numbers. Just like Barrett, Obama this fall could find that even a strong performance with upscale whites and minorities probably won’t save him if those blue-collar voters move against him decisively enough in states where they represent about half or more of the electorate, including not only Wisconsin, but also Ohio, Iowa and Michigan (though the danger is mitigated there by the large number of blue-collar white union members). And all polls now suggest Obama is likely to face an even greater deficit with non-college whites nationally than Barrett did in Wisconsin (which is one reason the national race will be much closer than that hypothetical projection from Tuesday’s Wisconsin result would indicate).
That risk increases the pressure on the president to win states shaped by the twin forces that he personally embodies-growing diversity and rising education levels. That list revolves around generally sun-splashed states like Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Virginia, North Carolina, Florida and in a somewhat different way, Pennsylvania (where whites with college degrees outnumber those without them in the electorate). After Wisconsin, Obama may have no choice but to deepen his investment in a Sunbelt path to a second term.
Brownstein is making sense here, but the situation is worse for Obama than he realizes. First, just the general point that if Obama loses Wisconsin, Iowa, Ohio, and Michigan, it’s generally hard to see how is isn’t also going to lose a number of other states he carried last time. NC is probably lost to him anyway, IN surely is. He’d have to hold everything else, but who sees him holding all the other swing states in an election where he is losing Michigan and Wisconsin?
But more importantly, he’s not going to do nearly as well with “upscale” whites as he did last time. Romney has been doing very well with that cohort in the primaries, and though the primary electorate is not the same as the general election electorate, that strength will translate. Romney brings back a portion of those voters (who have been trending Democrat for 20 years) and wins blue collar whites handily, and Obama’s coalition shrinks to some minorities, single “Julia” types, and sociology professors. That’s not enough.
What’s Changed After Wisconsin
The Obama administration suddenly looks like a house of cards.
But organization and money aren’t the headline. The shift in mood and assumption is. The vote was a blow to the power and prestige not only of the unions but of the blue-state budgetary model, which for two generations has been: Public-employee unions with their manpower, money and clout, get what they want. If you move against them, you will be crushed.
Mr. Walker was not crushed. He was buoyed, winning by a solid seven points in a high-turnout race.
Governors and local leaders will now have help in controlling budgets. Down the road there will be fewer contracts in which you work for, say, 23 years for a city, then retire with full salary and free health care for the rest of your life—paid for by taxpayers who cannot afford such plans for themselves, and who sometimes have no pension at all. The big meaning of Wisconsin is that a public injustice is in the process of being righted because a public mood is changing.
Thank you, Ms. Noonan, for saying that. I have recently had public school teachers brag to my face about how they will be able to retire in their 50s. Perfectly nice people who simply haven’t put two and two together and thought about the fact that I will be working into my eighties to pay their retirement. Because of the particular social situation at the time, I just had to grit my teeth and say nothing. But Walker’s victory says it for me, and it says it states across the nation.
Noonan goes on to talk about the fact that Obama is increasingly appearing small, desperate, out of touch, and nakedly political. A fact, she points out, that even Bill Clinton appears to be reacting to.
Finally, people are talking about Minnestoa possibly being in play. That seems like a longshot now, but it was close in 2000 and 2004, and if things are trending against Obama, MN could flip for the first time since 1972. Analysts are already calling the state a leaner for Obama, rather than “safe.”
When all is said and done, June may indeed be the month when things turned against Obama for good. If that is the case, he will have largely brought his defeat upon himself.
Ardently devoted to the cause of human freedom, he has worked at the confluence of politics, activism, and public policy for more than a decade. He co-wrote a ten-part series of video shorts on economics, and has film credits as a researcher on 11 political documentaries, including Citizens United's notorious film on Hillary Clinton that became the subject of a landmark Supreme Court decision. He is the founder of several activist endeavors, including AnyStreet.org (now a part of Western Free Press) and Liberatchik.com. He is currently the managing editor of and principal contributor to WesternFreePress.com.