Within the last two weeks, the country seems to have reached a tipping point — a moment when the doubts about President Obama crystallized in the minds of many more voters than those inclined to root for Republicans. This president has begun to lose his base.
It wasn’t merely the bruising debt-ceiling struggle and the debt downgrade. It was his statement the following Monday, cobbled together at the last minute as the stock market crumbled. As Obama spoke, prices plummeted. It was as if he had dropped something dead into the public square.
He scolded lesser mortals for their “lack of political will,” as if he isn’t part of the problem. He complained about those who insist on “drawing lines in the sand,” as if he hasn’t done the same. He urged some of his now-familiar nostrums, such as more spending on infrastructure and higher taxes on the rich.
At the end, he stuck on a little note as an afterthought. Oh, by the way, we lost 30 men in Afghanistan.
You have to wonder what genius in the White House thought it was appropriate to take note of that tragedy in the context of a stock-market meltdown.
Obama isn’t evil or even especially devious. That would at least make him more interesting. He is more like the pedantic hall monitor you’re tired of seeing, the guy who won’t stop harping on the same stuff.
He will leave for a bus tour of swing states tomorrow, during which he will promote tax credits for companies that hire unemployed veterans — another little targeted program to complicate the tax code, like tax credits for homebuyers or “green jobs.” His idea may be well intentioned, but with millions of people out of work it seems almost beside the point.
Obama’s approval rating in the Gallup poll bounced along near his all-time low at 41 percent last week while his disapproval number ticked up to 51. These numbers will probably get worse. He is losing supporters on the left, and the tone in the media is tougher.
Casino and hotel executive Steve Wynn, a Democrat, calls the Obama administration “the greatest wet blanket to business and progress and job creation in my lifetime.” Dana Milbank at The Washington Post notes that “the most powerful man in the world seems strangely powerless, and irresolute.”
At the leftward-leaning Daily Beast, Leslie Bennetts says the whispers of concern among Democrats “have swelled to an angry chorus of frustration about Obama’s perceived weaknesses.” She quotes various Democrats, mostly unnamed, describing themselves as disgusted or infuriated.
The angriest seem to be those who supported Hillary Clinton. Bennetts writes that older women who backed Clinton say Obama has “no spine and no (testicular attributes).”
Emory professor Drew Westen, a liberal, essentially admitted in a New York Times piece that Republicans were right when they said Obama’s lack of experience was a warning sign. Democrats were “bewitched” by Obama’s supposed eloquence, Westen wrote. They ignored his lack of accomplishments and his pattern of avoiding tough stands while in the Illinois Senate.
Obama is even taking shots from the Congressional Black Caucus.
“We want him to know that from this day forward we have had it,” said Rep. John Conyers of Michigan. “We want him to come to our side and advocate, not to watch and wait.”
This hemorrhaging matters because Obama won the presidency on a wave of enthusiasm from black voters, young voters and independents, but the enthusiasm has vanished.
Obama could still win a second term, but it would take an unexpected economic turnaround, a great deal of luck and an ineffective Republican nominee.
Obama’s root problem may be insoluble. As a Republican consultant told me last week, “With some incumbents, there comes a time when voters are just tired of their act.”