Which is not bad for a political prognosticator, actually. Charlie Cook is arguing in his latest column that the President must be hoping that one or more of the following things happen:
- Unemployment goes down;
- We not lose the war in Afghanistan; and/or
- THAT WOMAN gets the Presidential nomination.
...if the President wants to be reelected. First off: amazing what two years of institutionalized blithering incompetence will do to a man's public perception, isn't it? Seriously, Barack Obama should have taken four years off to go be Governor of Illinois, or something: because he's got pretty much none of the life skills that we expect from chief executives these days. Second: let's look at Charlie's points, more or less out of order.
First off, let's remove one of these conditions right off of the bat: I'd rather lose an election than have the USA lose a war, and so would most of the rest of you. On this President Obama's primary problem is with his own antiwar supporters, who are just starting to dimly realize that not only are they not getting what they want; they are expected to enthusiastically want what the President tells them to want. In other words: as long as Afghanistan continues to look more or less sustainable, the President's major criticisms about national security will come from the Angry Left. Annoying to him, but tolerable.
As to the economy: Charlie wrote this article back before the new job numbers came out, so he was as surprised by the job numbers as anybody else. Folks were hoping for 150K new jobs and a lowered unemployment rate to 9.5*; instead, we got only 39K new jobs and a higher unemployment rate of 9.8% (which isn't all bad; it reflects more people hoping that they can find work). As it stands, it's going to stay that at that rate for a long time, or at least until this administration takes job creation more seriously than it does, say, suppressing high school bake sales. Obviously, the GOP will do what it can to get the unemployment rate down, but until the Democrats are ready to see reason about the fundamental flaws in their economic model there's an upper limit on how much we can do without control of the Senate and the White House. I'll tell you the truth: keeping Nancy Pelosi in a leadership position tells me that the Democrats are going to continue to govern in a non-serious manner, and that's just too bad. For the country, the unemployment rate - and the Democrats.
And that leads us to point three. Charlie's been beating the "Sarah Palin can't win" drum for a while, presumably because of her poor polling among independents. And he might be right, and he might be wrong. Certainly she'd lose the election today, for precisely that reason. And just as certainly, the election is not today. But what should be noted here is that if we still have our current unemployment rate in 2012 (or, God forbid, we've lost the war) then the President is going to go down in flames regardless of who the Republican nominee is. Particularly if the Republican nominee can campaign with a happy smile and easy demeanor, which has been notably lacking in this administration thus far. Those qualities in a politician go far in hard times.
Just ask Jimmy Carter. Or George HW Bush.
Moe Lane (crosspost)
*And if it had happened... 'Huzzah?'