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July 14, 2009

Hey, Buck Up: Even If Sotomayor Gets Confirmed, There's Some Good News

First of all, not even half of the country supports her confirmation -- a mere 47%, which means 5% of Obama voters oppose. (More than that, I think -- bear in mind fewer people actually voted compared to the pool of potential voters. Actually CNN only asked "adults," not voters at all.)

Here's CNN's headline, by the way:

Poll: Nearly half support Sotomayor's confirmation

Here's how the headline would read in any non-Obama-Aid news universe:

Poll: Less than half support Sotomayor's confirmation

They actually try to spin the "less than half" into a positive thing. Nearly half! Whoo-hoo! Last time I had sex I lasted nearly 40 seconds!

Anyway.

40% oppose her nomination and 13% aren't sure. Indpendents, importantly, are split, and only 7 in 10 Democrats support her. (The "bitter clingers," we must assume, are the ones who don't support her.)

It's incorrect to view every battle in terms of only success or failure. Any general in a real war looks not merely at success or failure, but at the cost of securing that particular victory. If you take a hill but suffer 5000 losses to the enemy's 500, did you "win'? Well, sort of, but you also sort of lost pretty badly.

Senate Democrats will vote in lockstep for this wise Lie-tina (yeah I'm pretty annoyed I wrote that myself) despite the lack of support for her because the vote costs them very little. While people don't support her, neither do they oppose her in a majority, and even if they did, the passion for their opposition is not that high (except among conservatives, by and large).

So Democrats can afford to defy the American public -- or if not "defy," at least take a step the public does not support -- at low cost.

But a low cost is not no cost at all. The public is already souring on Obama and the Democrats. Obama and the Democrats have continued pushing policies on America that America doesn't want because they had a certain amount of political capital they could burn without endangering themselves.

But they've burned through that by now. The public knows they've given the Democrats a free pass on a lot of stuff already and is becoming increasingly disinclined to continue offering them free passes.

Let's not forget this is one battle in a much bigger war. Yes, we will probably lose. But it's important to consider what the Democrats are blowing their now-depleted store of political capital on, and bear in mind that capital spent on this idiot can't also be spent on cap-and-trade and health care.

Republicans can't win every fight. Actually, being such a small minority, they can't win many fights. But they can make each Democratic success costly. And that's not nothin'.

Dick Morris notes how badly Democratic fortunes have shifted. (Link Fixed.)

I remember, personally, watching Republican numbers slide on the underlying issues from 2004-2006. Even though we had a majority until 2007, I knew the erosion of support would cost us, unless we started making a much better case for ourselves or we were rescued by good news.

We weren't. (Except for the Surge, but by then it was too late.)

I watched those numbers grimly.

Democrats are watching the numbers just as grimly now:

In the polling hierarchy, the least signif icant data measure is a president's per sonal popularity. Here, President Obama excels, with most polls showing him in the high 60s. Next comes his job approval, significant but not necessarily predictive.

Obama's approval, in the Rasmussen Poll, has now dipped to 51 percent, one point less than his 2008 vote share of 52 percent. In past polls, most voters registering disapproval for the president had voted for Sen. John McCain. Now, Obama's starting to lose people who backed him last November.

But the true predictive measurement is a chief executive's and his party's ratings on specific issues. As these shift, so usually do his job-approval numbers and eventually his popularity. And current trends suggest that Obama is in for rough sledding -- his job-approval ratings likely will quickly fall into negative territory and then drop further.

Rasmussen asked voters to compare which party was best on 10 issues. While Obama's ratings are likely better than his party's, the Republicans can take heart in trumping their opposition in eight of the 10 categories.

The most significant topic was, of course, the economy. For the second straight month, Rasmussen shows a GOP lead over the Democrats, this time by 46 percent to 41 percent, indicating that the incessant bad news and the collapse of the false hopes the stock market entertained this spring have taken their toll.

And only 39 percent of voters say that Obama is doing an excellent or good job on the economy, 11 points lower than his overall job approval. Forty-three percent say he's doing fair or poor.

As unemployment continues to rise and even Obama predicts that times will get worse, this gap on economic issues will likely rise.

On their competing health-care reform plans, Rasmussen finds Obama and the Republicans drawing equal support. On health care generally, Democrats find their margin down to 4 points from 18 two months ago.

Obama is rapidly losing support on health reform, his key issue. And if he stays behind on health care and the economy for long, nothing much will hold him and his party aloft.

Obama and the Democrats can still be rescued by good news in the economy. The American economy is resilient and can usually grow no matter how badly the government sabotages it.

But this seems less and less likely. Obama's sabotage is not of the normal variety. It is massive and system-wide and fundamental. The nightmare scenario, whereby Obama sabotages the economy but it nevertheless manages some growth, encouraging further sabotage, may yet unfold. But Obama's doing so much damage he's -- what's the word? -- admirable in failing to leave himself any hidey-holes or escape-hatches when the damage becomes apparent.

Sotomayor is overall one of the smaller cases of Democratic overreach and Democratic thwarting of the wishes of swing voters (and most of the country, when conservatives are included). But these things add up.

And if present trends continue, the battlefield may well change in 2010.

Obama's Not Clinton: I'm guessing many conservatives are downbeat because they see a repeat of Clinton -- a president they loathed who was, despite their most fervent wishes, popular with the American people.

Clinton was only popularity because the economy began growing like gangbusters. (Actually, it began growing under his predecessor, but the full effects of the recovery were not acknowledged until sometime into the middle of Clinton's first term.)

Obama will not likely have that advantage.

Now, if he does, then yes: Prepare for eight years of eating your livers.

But Clinton had two big advantages: Hillary and his liberal instincts. Hillary did such a poor job of selling health care the pubic recoiled from it, and Clinton was initially liberal enough to invite the Republican Revolution and became, much to his benefit, "stuck" with a Congress that kept spending down and wouldn't approve of further tax hikes. Having lost Congress, Clinton was forced to let the economy fend for itself, pretty much... which it did, and, as it usually does when left alone, it grew.

Even if Obama is thwarted on health care and cap-and-tax, he's still already grown the government well beyond sustainable levels. Clinton benefited from a rapidly declining deficit. Obama will be in as opposite a position as the human imagination is capable of positing.

He's been willing to risk his presidency on his true-believer faith that socialism is not only an answer, but the answer. He's wrong about that, and, while evil miracles are still possible, conservatives should reflect on how much they believe what they think they believe.

If you believe your concept of how economics works is right, how can you be so downbeat about conservativism's eventual resurgence? If you're sure socialism is counterproductive, why the grim predictions for Obama's success?

Again, there is always that improbable nightmare scenario to worry about. But it's not the most likely scenario at all. The most likely scenario is that Obama plunges the country into a four (or eight, or 12) year economic funk, an American Lost Decade, and he and the Democrats pay dearly for that.

Oh, and incidentally, Ronald Reagan was not the true father of the conservative revolution.

Jimmy Carter was. Regan was the revolution's first son.

I've got a lot of hopes for Obama on this score.



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posted by Ace at 05:20 PM

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