"[T]he White House just didn't pay attention to it."
That's the succinct summary from "a senior American intelligence official" in this morning's New York Times of why the president is surprised by the rise of ISIS, trying everything to erase his branding of the terrorist army and quasi-state as the jayvees earlier this year.
The "it" in that tart response from the intelligence professional unwilling to serve as scapegoat for the disaster that is ISIS are "classified American intelligence reports [that] painted an increasingly ominous picture of a growing threat from Sunni extremists in Syria." Reports that the president ignored. Our lassitudinous leader has discovered the American public is no longer buying his serial explanation of "nobody told me," and the harsh reaction to his 60 Minutes fiasco from Sundayunderscores that his approach to the presidency has lost its appeal to all but hard core apologists of this charade at 1600.
The "emperor's new clothes" phase of the presidency couldn't come at a worse time for President Obama as voters are even now receiving early absentee ballots for the 2014 midterm elections. This has become a foreign policy election, or more precisely, a referendum on President Obama's handling of America's foreign policy. The battle for the Senate is the proxy for a vote of no confidence in the president, and GOP candidates across the country are benefitting from the collective desire to march into the voting booth and deliver the stiffest rebuff possible to the golfing Commander-in-Chief possible.
This benefits Republicans who are trailing by a little but closing like Thom Tillis in North Carolina and Scott Brown in New Hampshire, as well as GOP nominees who have established small leads, like Cory Gardner in Colorado, or medium leads like Dan Sullivan in Alaska, Tom Cotton in Arkansas or Joni Ernst in Iowa. Candidates who are breaking away like Bill Cassidy in Louisiana and David Perdue in Georgia just need to keep the president's collapse in leadership front and center while flanking each blast at his incompetence abroad with a reminder of Obamacare's epic failures at home of Obamacare and the struggles of the economy staggering along under his regulatory agencies many faceted assault on American productivity. Even the longer shots like Mike McFadden in Minnesota in Minnesota and Ed Gillespie in Virginia don't seem so long anymore. Who knows how deep the disgust goes?
People from across the country are contributing dollars to these races is small or even large amounts in order to register dismay at America's exit from leadership cross the globe, and some are already packing their bags to travel to be a part of a GOTV effort in places they haven't been before or are running virtual precincts from their homes and cell phones. There's a "volunteer" button on each of those linked websites as well as a "donate" button, and thousands are clicking on both every day. It was always going to be a tough year for Obama, but his repeated missteps this year and indifference to responsibility this summer and fall have turned a bad political climate for Democrats into a poisonous one.
The latest attempt to shrug off responsibility for being caught on the back nine when ISIS surged into Iraq with their massacres and their beheadings (now tragically come to America and Australia per the new caliph's instructions) was perhaps the president's most tone deaf moment yet. President Obama blamed James Clapper, his Director of National Intelligence, just like he blamed others for the massive failures at the Department of Veterans Affairs and the IRS. Every parent knows the sound of a young child trying to blame "Mr. Nobody", and even adults without children are familiar with the dodges of the unrepentant, petulant child trying hard to avoid responsibility for everything that is broken or amiss he or she has left in their wakes.
It is President Obama's failures abroad and his many failures at home that are driving this election, as they should be. The RNC's Reince Priebus will be offering a template of the GOP's common denominators on this the 20th anniversary of the Contract with America on Thursday of this week, which is a very timely guide for any voter still on the fence as to the fact that there is a much, much better way forward.
But they key questions come from the paraphrase of the Reagan quote that Obama himself tried to employ on Sunday night. President Obama asked viewers if they were better off than they were six years ago in a clumsy effort to get people to remember the panic of '08 and the crisis that cleared the way forward for him. How many answered to themselves at that moment or since and came to the obvious conclusion "Of course not! How could you even ask?"
How many more went the next step and asked "Is America better off than it was just two years ago when he managed to get re-elected due to almost unbelievable electoral luck and some timely help from Mother Nature and the MSM?"
President Obama is unwelcome on Democrat campaign platforms across the country, but he doesn't get it. In fact the 60 Minutes pratfall seemed almost designed to hurt Democrats more. Perhaps the president is now nursing grievances against his own party for their mass abandonment of him, their flight from his embrace. Watching the Democrats try and hide from association with their leader would be very amusing if it didn't signal just how ruptured his presidency has become.
By any measure Obama's is a failed presidency. Rebuilding from the ruins of his many plans gone very awry begins with a first step of checking his power through a Republican Senate and House. Every time he steps out to point a finger of blame at anyone else, that act rebounds against him. As it should. As it already has, was we will see on November 4.