Of all the problems looming over the head of Barack Obama’s re-election campaign, there may be one that is flying under the radar to a lot of folks. I’ve mentioned it briefly on the program, but never summarized it this way before: there’s coming to be no one left to pander to. That was the thesis of National Review’s Mona Charen in a recent piece she authored before the healthcare decision came down and stole the attention of everyone. But her point is a great one to consider.
I’ve addressed and pointed to the historic numbers of presidents running for re-election, and that far more telling than the head-to-head comparison with their opponent is their overall approval rating. Obama has been well below 50 percent – the magic number in an election year – for some time. And more than that, he has been closer to 40 percent than 50 in several.
That reality has not been lost on Axelrod and the other masterminds of the Obama campaign. And that’s why we’ve seen a steady procession of bizarre and aggressive pandering to selective constituencies of the Democrat Party. Obama has been desperately trying to piece together a “team of radicals” to bump that number up above 50. It hasn’t worked. And the most concerning thing about that is, as I said earlier, the President is running out of folks to pander to.
Here’s how Charen put it:
In 1999, Christopher Hitchens penned an acid reflection on the presidency of Bill Clinton, titled No One Left to Lie To. The verdict on the presidency of Barack Obama, at least during this campaign season, might be “No One Left to Pander To.” In three and a half years, we’ve gone from the “audacity of hope” to the “shameless palm grease.”
Shaken by the polls, and unable to tout his accomplishments in office, the president has instead targeted giveaways to particular constituencies of the Democratic party. We’ve gone from soaring to squalid. Women got free contraceptives and the invitation to believe that the Republicans had launched another war of choice — against women. College students got more subsidies for their loans. Gays got support for same-sex marriage. And Hispanics got the dubiously legal decision to forgo deportations for certain illegal immigrants. Blacks and Jews haven’t been bribed yet, but perhaps that’s what comes of voting too reliably Democratic.
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Interestingly, even those groups (Blacks and Jews) have seen declines in the intensity of support for the President. That’s not to say that anyone thinks either constituency will vote for Romney over Obama. But it is to say that if the President sees even a slight decline in the amount of support from either, it could spell doom on Election Day.
That’s why I wouldn’t be surprised one bit to see some of the most outrageous pandering you could ever imagine by the time late August rolls around. It’s been pathetic to this point, but there’s no reason to think the President’s campaign has any shame over making it worse if they think they can squeeze a few more votes. The big problem for them may be, there’s no one left to go after. Here’s to hoping.