With President Obama's approval rating hovering at 49 percent according to the latest Rasmussen tracking poll, it is becoming increasingly clear that he is a formidable threat for re-election. Gas prices are through the roof; the economy remains in shambles; the situation in the Middle East has never been so tenuous. And yet nearly half of all Americans think Obama's doing a decent job. Which shows that nearly half of Americans are either dependent on the government or devoid of common sense or both.
It gets worse for conservatives. Obama's lead in Virginia has been growing, not shrinking. The latest Quinnipiac poll has Obama beating Romney 50 to 42 percent. In Ohio, it's no better -- the most recent polls have Obama up by 12 points. In Florida, Obama leads Romney by a 46-43 margin.
It's still early. But Republicans had better figure out some new strategies or they will be left in the dust by the highly-organized, beautifully-tuned Obama campaign.
Conventional conservative wisdom says that the Republican nominee will be fine come November. The economy is bad, say the pundits, and therefore Obama will lose as a matter of course. There's only one problem: That's never happened before. Bad economies help Democrats. That's because the unemployed typically want more government care, and the currently-employed tend not to think the economy's all that bad.
Triangulation is also troublesome. Seizing the middle in this election cycle will be difficult, since Obama has staked out a record of not raising taxes, leaving Guantanamo Bay open, and "cracking down" on Wall Street. Even if we recognize that Obama's record is deeply leftist -- his spending, his appeasement-oriented foreign policy, his dislike for traditional American values -- we will have to convince the American public that he is radical. That's an uphill battle in the face of a heavy media assault.
The biggest problem of all is that Americans seem to like President Obama personally. He can be charming; his family is certainly beautiful. He is also vain, rude, arrogant and nasty, of course -- but the media has covered up those characteristics. Despite his political approval ratings varying widely over the last several years, Obama's personal approval rating has never dropped -- it has remained high throughout.
Therein lies the problem.
It's a problem that can be laid at the feet of John McCain, who refused to define for the American public just who Barack Obama was, preferring instead to attack his arguments. That's a mistake in a presidential election, where you have to define the personality of your opponent before attacking him on policy.
Conservatives cannot make the same mistake in this election cycle. They must define for the American public just who Barack Obama is. Who is he? He's a man who never met a radical he didn't like. He's a fellow who thinks that American society is irreparably racist, irrationally bigoted and immoral beyond measure. He believes that fundamental change is necessary because America is a fundamentally nasty place.
When we seek to vet this president, we must look at all of him: not just the pretty pictures and not just the obvious policy failures. We must figure out what makes Barack Obama tick. It's only once we do that that the American people will know their commander-in-chief fully enough to lose faith in him. And he richly deserves that loss of faith.