Michael Barone

The two political parties are in disarray. The Democrats are disheartened. The Republicans are disunited.

Start with (because they're first in alphabetical order) the Democrats. The Barack Obama they were so enthusiastic about in 2008 has been disappointing many of them lately.

Not many happy Obama voters envisioned last November that his presidency would be faced with multiple scandals six months later.

During the campaign, most of the media provided voters with little information about the murder of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans in Benghazi.

But now it's apparent to anyone paying attention that Obama and Hillary Clinton repeatedly misled Americans about the nature of the attack and their response.

Strong partisans try to ignore that kind of information about their leader. But it's getting harder to do so.

It's even harder to ignore the Justice Department's actions against The Associated Press and Fox News's James Rosen. (Disclosure: I'm a Fox News contributor.)

As for the Internal Revenue Service's targeting of conservative groups, prominent Democratic officeholders, including Obama, have appropriately condemned it. Polls suggest that most Democratic voters take that view, as well.

I have seen no evidence yet that anyone in the White House ordered the targeting. But it does seem peculiar that IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman and his chief of staff attended hundreds of meetings in the White House complex.

And then there's the news that the National Security Agency has been data mining and intercepting communications between suspected terrorists abroad and persons in the United States.

The latter used to be called "domestic wiretapping" during the Bush administration. Barack Obama denounced it vigorously.

But as president he's kept it up and now, perfunctorily, defends it. History shows that there is more continuity to U.S. foreign and defense policy than partisan rhetoric suggests. But Democratic voters were led to expect discontinuity -- "hope and change." Many are surely disheartened by this and by his decision to provide some arms to Syrian rebels.

Democrats' disillusion comes on top of some disenchantment during Obama's first term. Sluggish economy growth and the unpopularity of Obamacare contributed to that.

It's been little noticed, but Obama got 3.6 million fewer votes in 2012 than he did in 2008. In contrast, George W. Bush was re-elected with 11.6 million more votes than he won four years before.

Michael Barone

Michael Barone, senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner (www.washingtonexaminer.com), is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and a co-author of The Almanac of American Politics. To find out more about Michael Barone, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2011 THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER. DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM