John Feehery: Speaking Engagements

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Obama’s Cruelest Month

Posted on September 7, 2010
“April is the cruelest month, breeding lilacs out of the dead land, mixing memory and desire, stirring dull roots with spring rain.”  - T.S. Eliot--The Wasteland

Had T.S. Elliot just witnessed the August endured by the Obama Administration, he might have changed his opinion of the cruelest month.  Because, politically, for Democrats, this August has been nothing, but a wasteland.

From the moment Michelle Obama set foot in Spain, to the moment her husband decided to wade into the New York City mosque mess, it has been nothing, but bad news for Congressional Democrats.

As the President’s popularity ratings have sunk, so have the fortunes of his close allies in Capitol Hill.  According to Gallup, Republicans now enjoy the biggest advantage to the following question in the history of the poll:  “Will you vote for the Republican candidate or the Democratic candidate this coming November?”

And in race after race, the polling is not getting any better for the Democrats.   It was widely reported that Democratic operatives have already thrown in the towel on the House, and are now turning their attention to saving the Senate majority, a concern that was deemed unthinkable only four months ago.

The August primaries were a wake-up call not only to Congressional Democrats, but also to mainstream Republicans.  Republican incumbents who got the message early, John McCain for example, fought hard and played it tough, and they survived.  Republicans who didn’t, like Lisa Murkowski, who reportedly didn’t want to go negative on her opponent until it was too late, lost.  In other races, the candidate who was able to paint themselves as the most conservative challenger, such as Ken Buck of Colorado, and Linda McMahon of Connecticut, were able to beat the establishment candidates pretty handily.  Marco Rubio didn’t have to worry about his Florida primary because he had already scared the more moderate Charlie Crist out of the race and into an independent bid.

Democrats are going to try to paint these conservative victories as a takeover by the GOP of a bunch of extremist candidates who can’t win in a general election.  And they will say that their candidates – Michael Bennet of Colorado, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Kendrick Meek of Florida – are the most electable.  But I don’t buy that line, mostly because these candidates come from a Democratic establishment that is extraordinarily unpopular.  Voters don’t see Democrats who support Barack Obama as part of the solution.  They see them as a big part of the problem.

And if you look at any of the polls, things have not improved in any way, shape or form for the President’s party.  Indeed, the economy is still in terrible shape.  The latest job numbers so panicked the White House that they have hurriedly unveiled a new stimulus package, just in time for the Fall elections.

The President may have hoped that he would get some political bounce from removing all combat troops from Iraq, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.  The American people long ago turned the page on Iraq, and they are frustrated that the President hasn’t focused like a laser beam on job creation.

Another troubling sign for the Democrat is that their signature legislative accomplishment, the huge health care law signed by the President earlier this year, is extraordinarily unpopular, with close to 60 percent of the American people wanting the government to repeal the law as soon as possible.

In another troubling sign for Democratic strategists, a poll came out last week that showed that President Bush was polling higher than President Obama in the critical swing state of Ohio.  For Democrats who sought to make this election a referendum on a President who has been out of office for two years, that couldn’t be good news.

The political season is now officially upon us.  For Democrats and President Obama, August has been a cruel, cruel month, and while they can delude themselves into believing that the primaries put them in a good spot to win some elections in November, I think the cold, hard reality is going to splash them in the face as the Fall begins its process of turning into Winter.