August Arrives

Erick Erickson
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Posted: Jul 31, 2014 5:20 PM
August Arrives

Sextili had been the name of the eighth month, but only because it was the sixth month in the Roman calendar. Wikipedia notes that "it became the eighth month when January and February were added to the year before March by King Numa Pompilius, who also gave it 29 days." Julius Caesar put in two additional days.

Sextili became August eight years after the birth of Christ to honor Emperor Augustus. While August may have worked out well for Augustus, for American politicians August tends to be a month of scandal and trouble.

Congress leaves for its August recess. The president goes on vacation. The American public gears up for school. The press corps is bored. The press, largely out of boredom, are easily steered like a pack of wolves toward August scandal. In August of 1974, Gerald Ford became president as Richard Nixon resigned in scandal. It was in August of 1998 that Bill Clinton testified before a grand jury about his affair with Monica Lewinsky. In August of 2001, Gary Condit gave an awkward interview with Connie Chung about Chandra Levy. In August of 2004, the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth showed up to make their case against John Kerry. In August of 2005, Cindy Sheehan camped outside President Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas.

Each time, the media whipped the related stories into a frenzy. August has become silly season for American politics.

This year, the president heads to Martha's Vineyard. Congressmen and senators head out across the nation to campaign for re-election. The border remains a national news story with neither Republicans nor Democrats taking steps to close the border as a start for further conversations. Instead, as we head toward November, Democrats worried about their fate will seek to distance themselves from President Obama. Republicans will try to find a unifying national message on which to campaign.

It is that latter point that should give Democrats reason to cheer. Byron York, recently writing in the Washington Examiner, reported Republicans are split on whether to campaign on their accomplishments or campaign against Barack Obama. In 1998, Republicans chose to campaign against Bill Clinton as he was tied up in the Lewinsky scandal. It did not work for them. They lost seats.

Remembering that, Republicans now are worried and undecided on the way to go. It should be obvious -- make it about Barack Obama. The facts now are different from the facts then. In 1998, Gallup polling showed that President Clinton's job approval rating remained around 60 percent, even during the Lewinsky scandal. Now, President Obama's approval rating hovers below 45 percent. According to an Associated Press poll, more than 60 percent of Americans oppose Barack Obama's handling of the border situation.

Polling consistently shows the public has tired of President Obama's handling of immigration, the economy, foreign policy, health care, etc. Obamacare remains deeply unpopular. President Obama's job approval in the midterm election of his second term hovers around the levels of Richard Nixon and George W. Bush. Neither of those presidents' parties fared well in their comparable midterms. History indicates Barack Obama's party will fare badly, too.

A recent CBS News poll increases the odds of Republicans taking over the United States Senate. The incumbent Democratic senator from Montana has descended into a plagiarism scandal. Democrat chances of picking up the Georgia Senate seat have diminished. Republicans may not be popular, but they are not Barack Obama.

Meanwhile, Republicans have no serious accomplishments to show for themselves. Every measure they could campaign on has either been blocked by the Senate or so compromised as to make it noxious to conservatives.

Israel is on fire. Russia is flexing its muscle. The border is insecure and even Democrat patience is running out as immigrants who have entered the country illegally start showing up in neighborhoods across the country. The IRS scandal continues to grow. The president will be on the golf course while Republicans and Democrats campaign. Making this election about Barack Obama should be a no-brainer.