One of the things that struck me in the last week was that the president’s poll numbers were holding pretty firm, despite a string of blunders and setbacks - his weird behavior after Fort Hood, the passage of an unpopular health “reform” bill, and, too late for most polls, his disgracefully deep bow before the emperor of Japan and the announcement that the mastermind of 9-11 will be tried in an ordinary courtroom in densely populated Manhattan.
A pollster cautioned that the president’s approval numbers, hovering around 50% in many surveys, may not go that much lower because he has such a solid base of support. That is true. This White House is run like the old political machines of New York (Tammany Hall) and Chicago: It is built on constituent groups on whom favors and funds are lavished, the better to keep them loyal. And loyal they stay. When checks are written to ACORN, they aren’t written to purchase good government. They’re written to purchase loyalty.
It’s the job of the Republican Party to analyze the flow of loyalty to this president, and interdict it whenever possible. Recent polling shows that Mr. Obama’s least loyal followers are independent voters, who gave him his margin of victory in 2008. They are peeling away, growing louder in their complaints and their sense of disillusionment. But they are not necessarily gravitating toward the Republican Party for any purpose other than a protest vote.
That is not good enough.
The president is revealing himself to be the passionate leftist that many of us thought he was during the campaign. It’s in his blood, in his cultural traditions, in the choices he made of friends. He is also a superb campaigner, his way made easier by NFL-quality blocking from the mainstream media.
Yes, it is possible for Republicans to do very well next year simply by opposing. But they will never return to full power, and continuing power, without an affirmative program and a slate of attractive, winning candidates. That work is still in progress. In my view, it is proceeding too slowly.
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