GOP Swimming Upstream

I haven't written much about politics lately. The reason for this is my growing conviction that it just doesn't matter who will be our next president or which party controls Congress next year. All the possible scenarios add up to deep trouble. There are only slight differences in the particulars.

I still think Obama has the edge over McCain. I say this not because he is charismatic, attracts hordes of young voters, or has the black vote locked up. All those things are true but he would win even without them. The tide of 2008 is in the Democrat's favor.

The most recent Gallup Poll has 67 percent of voters disapproving of President Bush; those numbers are worse than Richard Nixon’s on the eve of his resignation. A CBS News poll taken at the end of April found only 33 percent of Americans have a favorable view of the GOP — the lowest since CBS started asking the question more than two decades ago. By comparison, 52 percent of the public has a favorable view of the Democratic Party.

Things are so bad that many people don’t even want to call themselves Republicans. The Pew Research Center for the People & the Press has found the lowest percentage of self-described Republicans in 16 years of polling. [More]
With the economy sinking, an unpopular war with no end in sight, and the most unpopular president in history on his side, McCain is swimming upstream. Unless he can rebuild the entire political landscape in the next few months, there could be a blowout in November.

Yes, McCain is a war hero. All well and good, but so was George H.W. Bush in 1992 and Bob Dole in 1996. Draft-dodger Bill Clinton beat both of them handily. Al Gore and John Kerry may not have been heroes but at least they went to Vietnam. Both lost to George W. Bush of the Air National Guard. Being a war hero is not an automatic ticket to the White House.

With Democrats busy sniping against each other, McCain has had a free pass for the last three months. That is about to change. You are going to see a serious effort to convince the electorate that a vote for John McCain is a vote for a third Bush term. McCain will try to distance himself from Bush, but I don't think he can succeed.

So barring some major surprise between now and November, it seems very likely that Barack Obama will be our next president. It is also likely he will have a big Democratic majority in Congress. This will allow him to actually get things done. Fortunately, parties in that position have a tendency to overreach and get slapped down in the next election. How much damage will be done in the meantime? All we can do is wait. And pray.

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