President Barack Obama is declining — his ratings on his handling of the economy are actually plummeting — and the honeymoon is rapidly coming to an end. Opposition to his policies is hardening — and he is in a race to pass as much of his agenda before Democrats in the House get cold feet in advance of the 2010 mid-term elections.
Americans want progress; they expected some improvement by now after all the grandiose promises from Team Obama. The problem with creating the image of the New Messiah is that expectations are then raised to such a high level that no one could ever meet.
The Obama White House cannot match the promises of the Obama Campaign in 2007-2009; yet they are going to be held to those promises and pledges.
Polls show support for the president’s handling of the economy is declining. Stories are leaking that there is panic inside the Obama economic team over the failure of the stimulus bill to reverse the downward jobs trend. Thus the renewed talk lately of a “second stimulus” — all while we have our first trillion dollar deficit — with three months left in the fiscal year.
The jobs picture is ugly; the president himself has now backtracked on the short-term picture and even he predicts it will get worse before it gets better.
Now we see a new push from White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel to “rahm” the nationalization of heathcare down Congress’ throats in the next few weeks — all before they read the polls about how a plurality of Americans now oppose this bill.
So the clock is ticking on the aggressive, leftward agenda of the new administration. It knows it has to pass as much of its program between now and the early fall or else the window closes and the 2010 political season begins.
But what of the Republicans?
Nada. Zip. Nolo Contendere.
The GOP, as a national force, presently is in hibernation.
All the attention lately — instead of a coherent, simple, and clear-cut message of credible fiscal conservatism — has been on the odd behaviors of Mark Sanford and his Argentinian ‘soul mate’ mistress, followed by more drama from an erratic, overwrought, and almost sad Sarah Palin.
While Sanford is finished as a national figure, Palin clearly is not. She has a reservoir of support; the same people who loved George W. Bush when he first ran for president in 1999 and 2000 love her now.
But there are differences in her status: the GOP candidates for governor this year in Virginia — and New Jersey where Chris Christie leads Gov. Jon Corzine by eight points — have announced they will not have Palin campaign for them.
There appears to be too much downside to Palin, a toxicity that scares off these credible candidates with legitimate chances to win in November.
Still, Palin can draw big crowds and raise money and thus will have a place inside the GOP and the conservative movement for a while.
But she brings more baggage than assets.
If we want to win in 2012, then we need a new candidate, perhaps someone not even on the scene today. Someone with none of the Bush-Cheney-McCain taint on them.
The present group of GOP leaders are a desultory crew with no joy, no pizzazz, and no charisma.
But despair not: who ever heard of Obama a few years ago?
Why can’t a new GOP/conservative star arise between now and 2012?
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