Whew! I need to catch my breath. I cant keep up with the quickly shifting journalistic conventional wisdom. When Barack Obama was elected President many proclaimed the beginning of a post-partisan society with greater racial understanding. But WAIT (it didnt work out that way)! In the summer of 2012, many said Obamas re-election was threatened. But WAIT! That September it was said Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romneys campaign was dead in the water for every remaining day of the campaign once his remark about 47 percent of Americans being takers was revealed. But WAIT!
A month later many said Obama could never recover from his first debate with Romney. But WAIT! Many said the GOPs 2012 national loss at the polls was a rejection of Tea Party conservatism and that America would move to the center. But WAIT! Many said it was certain the GOP would change to survive by relaxing opposition to gay marriage and championing serious immigration reform, and a political autopsy by the Republican National Committee agreed. But WAIT!
Many thought it was over for Obamas second term when he fumbled on Syria, faced bipartisan repudiation of his proposal for military action in Congress, and was upstaged by Russian President Vladimir Putin. But wait! Many said the GOP destroyed its branding and was in freefall when House Tea Party Republicans forced a government shut down and Republican approval numbers plummeted. But WAIT!
Todays conventional wisdom is that Obamas second term is virtually over due to his administrations shockingly poor Obamacare launch, with its failed, sign-up website. It contends hes in a free fall and can never recover from the fact that he wasnt accurate in proclaiming that under Obamacare no one would lose their insurance or doctor. Look up Obama Katrina on Google and youll see articles comparing Obamas Obamacare launch fiasco to Hurricane Katrina, which killed least 1,833 people.
Since Ive also been sucked into conventional wisdom cyclones sucked in after reading everything possible, analyzing independently and having my own perceptions colored by others analyses I am now almost out of breath. But here are some facts.
Fact: The health care website indeed symbolizes one of the poorly managed program launches in history and will impact historians assessment of Obama. Fact: Obama didnt detail in his assurances how junk insurance policies could be cancelled and how policies that didnt meet the Affordable Care Acts would become history, so he can be accused of misleading and unpleasantly surprising some voters. Congressional Democrats who stuck their necks out for him now fear a political guillotine in 2014.
Fact: Republicans berating him about the launch and misleading the public have done all they could to stall the program, obstruct it, try to repeal it and routinely mislead the public. Fact: many Presidents have poor or almost disastrous second terms.
NBC News First Read gives us some centering: As NBC/WSJ co-pollster Bill McInturff (R) has emailed clients, history shows that its difficult for presidents to recover from nosedives like this. And if thats true, Obama will be a liability in 2014, period. But it will be important to see where Obamas approval rating is come Spring 2014, assuming the health-care website gets fixed and the Affordable Care Act rollout becomes a distant memory. Barring something unforeseen, these next two months are perhaps the presidents last shot at getting right before the midterms. He needs a working website and a State of the Union that somehow instills some hope that hes up to the job as a leader. How the public responds will tell us if Obama will be able to recover in time for the midterms.
Obama has lost some credibility and clout. Early on in his term, many believed Obama would bolster Democrats argument that government can efficiently improve lives, but Obamacare has now become an SNL skit. Still, his biggest allies may be his enemies.
The National Journals Ron Fournier calls the GOP as the party of zilch. He writes: Rather than be the party of solutions in a gridlocked capital, appealing to a leadership-starved public, the GOP is the party of obstruction, ensuring that its putrid approval ratings nose-dive apace with Obamas.
So Obama and the Democrats will look good by comparison. (But WAIT...?)
Copyright 2013 Joe Gandelman, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate. Joe Gandelman is a veteran journalist who wrote for newspapers overseas and in the United States.