With news of President Obama's plan to swarm the heartland this week to re-energize his base, one wonders whether he's finally heard the message that mainstream America is repulsed by his agenda. Is his direct appeal to "the young and minority voters" an admission that he's beyond electoral redemption with the rest?
Well, a new George Washington University Battleground poll indicates that only 38 percent of Americans believe he deserves to be re-elected. His personal approval rating is higher -- mystifyingly -- but that is doubtlessly small comfort to Democratic congressmen, whose political fortunes are on the line in just five weeks.
Unfortunately for Democrats, the midterm elections will be nationalized like never before (including 1994), and the primary issue at play in these so-called "local" elections will be the president's agenda, just as it was with the U.S. Senate election in Massachusetts. The Republicans were smart to introduce their "pledge" notwithstanding its flaws, but even without it, the congressional elections would have been nationalized.
The Washington Post reports that Obama is focusing his efforts on his "surge" voters -- "the roughly 15 million Americans who voted for the first time in 2008" -- because the polls are "showing independent voters swinging toward Republicans in Wisconsin and the nation's other battlegrounds."
But even Obama's 2008 campaign manager, David Plouffe, acknowledges that though many of these voters still strongly approve of the president, "a lot of them aren't showing enough predilection to vote."
Then again, what else can Obama do? He has lost credibility with mainstream Americans, and his record is an unmitigated disaster. He has no persuasive excuses for his policy failures, as the blaming Bush strategy lost its luster months ago. Not that he isn't going to continue trying to persuade adults to ignore their lying eyes, but for now, at least, he's out to recapture the magic with those voters he excited into participatory politics.
But how will he sell them this time? Plouffe says Obama intends to remind students of all the hard work they put into his 2008 campaign and warn them that if they don't stay engaged, all their hard work together could be jeopardized.
But hard work to what end? Has he ever bothered defining what he is trying to accomplish, beyond the platitudinous "hope and change"? Hope and change from what, to what?
Of course, we adults know darn well what he's trying to accomplish: the transformational change of the greatest nation in the history of mankind. That is, uprooting America's founding ideals and replacing them with his Utopian vision, which even he does not understand.
But when he approaches his fellow idealists this time, he will be on different footing. He can no longer credibly portray himself as an outsider looking to change the status quo. He is largely responsible for the status quo, which, by the way, is anything but static. The "quo" is dynamic and is heading straight into the gutter, with our federal government 1 1/2 steps through the bankruptcy door, nationalized medicine merely a heartbeat away, our national security going south and a chief executive and commander in chief determined to continue on the same perilous path.
What specifics will he tell young people and minorities to motivate them to stay engaged? Reportedly, he will "tout his administration's record on issues important to young people." Does that mean he will tell the young that if they continue to support his agenda by electing his shameless enablers in Congress, they can expect America to stay in a severe recession for another decade because "it took us 10 years to get into this mess"? He might as well say, "Stay the course and be guaranteed you won't have a job when you graduate, but at least you'll be thwarting those evil Republicans."
Will he tell minorities he has personally enhanced race relations in this nation, when he has clearly fanned the flames of racial tension? That he has improved their plight, when he has, for example, single-handedly reversed welfare reform, which had measurably reduced, among other things, black child poverty and illegitimacy?
Don't forget that a major part of his appeal to the young and minorities was his promise of a new era, a new type of politics, a different atmosphere in America. But he has given us the most partisan and divisive administration in recent memory. How can going back to the well with yet more empty rhetoric help him when he has completed a two-year record directly contradicting his promises?
Say what you will, but Obama has no other play in his playbook than to make these elections about himself and his agenda, when that is the exact opposite of what his party needs. But what is a lonely narcissist to do?