While some people -- such as yours truly -- think Obama and the Democrats deserve much of the blame for the worsening economy, one can be agnostic on all that and recognize that voters have lost faith in the Democratic Party (which is not quite the same thing as saying they have bottomless respect for the GOP). The congressional generic ballot -- asking which party voters prefer -- is as bad for Democrats today as it was in 1994. Stu Rothenberg, editor of the Rothenberg Report -- not exactly an RNC direct-mail operation -- says Obama's approval rating (already below 50 percent) will likely rival Clinton's in November of 1994. Already, Democrats in tight races, including the Senate majority leader, are distancing themselves from the White House, and pretty much everyone has stopped trying to make lemonade out of the ObamaCare lemon.
Moreover, Obama has lost his connection with the American people. He's aloof without inspiring confidence. On issue after issue -- terrorism, immigration, the oil spill, the environment and the ground zero mosque -- he seems determined to craft his responses in a way that will annoy the most people possible.
Liberals are frantically trying to explain away Obama's problems. Some want to protect their investment in Obama, and some want to protect their investment in liberalism. So some claim that his mistakes stem from not being progressive enough, while others insist that he's played his cards right, but we need to wait a bit longer for the payoff.
I'm dubious on both counts. Obama has delivered massively for progressives, and it strikes me as idiotic to say that if he only squeezed a bit more liberalism into his first two years, everything would be better. Moreover, I don't think the payoff is coming, because I think the policies are wrong.
But, again, that's an argument for a different day. What's clear right now is that the president who claimed to be the personification of a world-historical moment has clearly misread his mandate, the mood and the moment. He's lost at sea, and not even a bigger boat will save him.