Published on TheHill.com on July 27, 2010
Having already lost all Republicans and almost all independents, Obama is shedding Democrats these days. According to a Fox News poll, his job approval among them has dropped from 84 percent at the end of June to 76 percent in mid-July. A combination of the Afghan War, the oil spill, Guantanamo and his failure to act on immigration reform have all eroded his credibility with his liberal constituents.
Now comes evidence that the war in Afghanistan cannot be won — certainly not with the effort and constraints now in place. It is obvious that Obama and Hillary Clinton are being duped by the Pakistani government and the Afghan leadership is awash in corruption. With Pakistan offering the Taliban sanctuary next door and the government in Kabul staying in office in order to steal American aid, the Afghan war is looking more and more like Vietnam.
And now we have the equivalent of the leak of the Pentagon Papers discrediting the war effort from the inside.
All this comes at a time when Obama is suffering from erosion in his liberal support due to his seeming pandering over the racial issue, bending first to accommodate conservative critics and then to cave in to black activists. The image of weakness that emerges, combined with the incompetence of his reaction to the BP oil spill, does him no good in his ratings.
The Democratic defection is critical. Those who leave Obama’s ranks will not likely defect to the Republicans. But they will stay home on Election Day in November. In any off-year election, the two-way contest between the parties masks the real competition — a three-way race among Democrats, Republicans and those who stay home.
Why should Democrats come out to vote for Obama? To end the war — the initial selling point he used to get nominated? The war is dragging on without end. His pledge to withdraw the extra troops rings increasingly hollow as it becomes clear that the price for keeping that pledge would be surrender. To close Guantanamo? He has no place to put the terrorists, and the stories of former inmates who have returned to their old day job — killing Americans — makes any further releases too risky. To pass cap-and-trade or amnesty for illegal immigrants or the repeal of the secret ballot in union elections? These issues have come and gone without any action, even when Obama’s rubber-stamp Senate and House majorities would have passed them. To create jobs? Unemployment persists and the evidence suggests a double-dip recession is coming.
And while liberals have increasing reason to question Obama’s performance on their litmus-test issues, they also have increasing cause to wonder at his competence. His inability to be anything but a spectator — and a sometimes disinterested one at that — to BP’s efforts to contain its oil spill and his obvious mismanagement of the Afghan war both raise questions about his abilities, concentration, focus and competence. These doubts further depress Democratic turnout and prospects.
With such scant reason to turn out and vote for Democrats in November, the additional evidence that the war in Afghanistan is turning into a quagmire will further depress the president’s prospects.
The most recent Gallup Poll showed that while 51 percent of Republicans described themselves as “very enthusiastic” about voting in the coming midterm elections, only 28 percent of Democrats shared that level of commitment. The prospects for a Democratic turnout grow dimmer by the week and the chances of a Republican victory, capturing both houses of Congress, grow stronger.