Republicans could scarcely believe their ears when, a few weeks back, President Obama injected himself into the very heart of the midterm election skirmish, under the bizarre notion that he was just the adrenaline struggling Democratic candidates needed. Hadn’t he noticed 2014 had been the Year of Snubbing Obama?
I mean, they’d rather have shared a quarantine bubble in Newark with Kaci Hickox than be seen on the same stage with Obama.
Of course, this was the same fellow who once boasted he could out-write his speech writers, out-organize his chief of staff, knew more about every issue than his policy directors and understood politics better than any political director. The same fellow, indeed, who in 2009 brushed off Democrats worried that passing hyperpartisan, unpopular legislation would result in a repeat of their 1994 blowout saying, “Well, the big difference ... is you’ve got me.”
Those Democrats discovering appointments in other towns at the approach of Air Force One recall how that worked out. As for Obama, an Everest of hubris seems accompanied by a goldfish’s memory.
So no one should have been surprised when, during a speech at Northwestern University in early October, the president attempted to rally support by declaring his policies “are on the ballot. Every single one of them.” Right-leaning pundits thanked Obama for cutting a Republican campaign commercial, their glee certified by David Axelrod, the president’s longtime adviser who described the remark as “a mistake.”
Remember, this was before the administration responded to Ebola’s arrival in the United States with confusion, bungling and condemnation of proposed travel curbs and state quarantine policies favored by overwhelming majorities of Americans. And before a member of the president’s national security team used a barnyard epithet to demean Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. And also before a renewed trickle of worrisome revelations about Obamacare: shockingly higher premiums, trouble finding doctors and a fresh wave of policy cancellations.
At the moment Obama lodged himself between voters and Republican majorities at both ends of the Capitol, our worries were simpler: bloodthirsty Islamic extremists overrunning Iraqi towns once secured with U.S. courage, blood and treasure; Russian adventurism; stagnating wages alongside a labor-participation rate at a 36-year low; Central American youngsters flooding across the Rio Grande; and race relations unraveling over the events in Ferguson, Missouri.
Focus! said Obama’s cult-like supporters, who peppered social media with statistics that were cherry-picked and carefully doctored. No, federal spending hasn’t increased much since he took office, but that’s only because he folded the $700 billion emergency bank bailout into his first budget and called it stimulus. It’s remained there ever since. As for the rest, credit the Federal Reserve’s six-year, easy-money policy.
On this Election Day Eve, polls suggest voters didn’t need President Obama’s urging to see his policies reflected in their ballot choices. He’s unlikely to be cheered by their verdict.