By Dave Andrusko
Earlier this week I wrote a piece that generated a fair amount of response: “The Turning Point of 2012?” My point was simply that come November when we look back to try to figure out the reasons why the elections turned out the way they did, last Monday might be seen as both a symbolic and substantive turning point.
What happened May 21? In twelve lawsuits filed simultaneously in various U.S. district courts, 43 Catholic dioceses, schools, hospitals, social service agencies, and other institutions filed suit, accusing Obama’s Department of Health and Human Services of violating the First Amendment and federal law by requiring Catholic organizations to “sacrifice their beliefs in order to be able to continue their mission of serving all people in need.”
Coolly and with calculation the Obama Administration had picked a fight with the Catholic Church and the Catholic Church refused to wimp out. In a word, the battle had been joined.
(Obama carried the Catholic vote by nine points in 2008—54% to 45%. I haven’t seen recent numbers but earlier this month Gallup’s daily tracking poll showed Obama and Romney tied at 46% among Catholic registered voters.)
In the four days since, there have been a spate of stories—which said not word one about the litigation—that openly speculated that the re-election prospects of pro-abortion President Barack Obama may be in serious trouble. If this is true in the absence of considering the impact of assaulting the religious liberties of hundreds of millions of Americans, what would the measure of Obama’s troubles be if that truth were factored in?
So, what caused this rush of stories? A confluence of events captured in the headline, “Obama stumbles out of the gate,” as POLITCO put it. Let me briefly enumerate some of them.
#1. Republicans are quickly coalescing around pro-life Mitt Romney who will soon officially reach the number of delegates needed to be the Republican presidential nominee. But as many have written, including us, duh? Given a choice between Obama and any Republican (aka someone who is not Obama), only the willfully blind would not have seen this coming. Also, Mr. Romney is campaigning effectively, something even his harshest critics are grudgingly conceding.
#2. The Obama campaign is to mistakes what Fischer is to nuts. To borrow from author and columnist Jimmy Breslin, talk about the gang that can’t shoot straight. The most obvious recent example is Obama’s assault on Romney’s stint at Bain Capital. Even members of his own party—and some who are very prominent—publicly groaned. Class warfare is a might risky tactic. (See #5.)
#3. Some hideous poll numbers. To be sure there are plenty of numbers that can be read either in the President’s favor, or, more typically, show them in a dead heat. But Florida is pivotal to Mr. Romney’s winning the election. Two months ago Quinnipiac gave Obama a seven-point lead—49% to 47% to 42. This week the same pollster puts Romney up by six points, 47% to 41%. That really caught people’s attention.
#4. How embarrassingly, transparently political this “greater unifier” is proving to be. POLITICO’s Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei wrote
“Some key Democrats say they have been dismayed watching Obama become a divider not a uniter, trying to incite anger among women, students and older voters. It’s striking how, in private conversations with Obama advisers, they openly talk of chucking the feel-good politics of 2008 for a very conventional form of political warfare this time around. A low-grade friction has emerged among advisers on whether the hack approach is damaging the brand.”
By the way, that’s another way of saying there are likely no depths to which the President’s campaign will not sink.
#5. Finally, there are these telling paragraphs that lead off Allen’s and VandeHei’s story.
“Nothing inspires Democrats like the Barack Obama swagger — the supreme self-confidence on stage, the self-certainty in private.
“So nothing inspires more angst than when that same Obama stumbles, as he has leaving the gate in 2012.
“That’s the unmistakable reality for Democrats since Obama officially launched his reelection campaign three weeks ago. Obama, not Mitt Romney, is the one with the muddled message — and the one who often comes across as baldly political. Obama, not Romney, is the one facing blowback from his own party on the central issue of the campaign so far — Romney’s history with Bain Capital. And most remarkably, Obama, not Romney, is the one falling behind in fundraising.”
This is the flipside of something that is as obvious as the nose on your face: Mr. Obama is floundering. He grasps at every passing issue in the desperate hope that it will act like a flotation device, an electoral life preserver.
Put another way, it’s not “cool” to panic.
We will not be publishing on Monday. Have a wonderful Memorial Day and remember what Memorial Day is all about.
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