Bad Week: Obama; Worst Week: McDonnell

Rich Galen
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Posted: Sep 08, 2014 10:24 AM
Bad Week: Obama; Worst Week: McDonnell

President Barack Obama had another very bad week. It was only because former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell was convicted on eleven of fourteen counts of corruption that Mr. Obama didn't walk away with the Worst Week honors.

President announced during his pre-taped interview with Chuck Todd (to help mark the beginning of the Todd era on Meet the Press) that he would be addressing the nation on Wednesday night on his strategy for dealing with ISIS/ISIL/IS.

Remember, a couple of weeks ago he told a presser that he had no strategy to do that which was about as dumb a statement as we have heard from a President of the United States since Gerald Ford insisted that "There is no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe" in 1976.

On his trip to Europe last week to attend the NATO summit, the White House staff thought it would be a big deal for the President to make a stop in Estonia which was one of the Eastern European nations that President Ford didn't realize were under Soviet domination.

Estonia is now a NATO member (along with nine other former members of the Warsaw pact), but whatever impact the Administration thought it might have on Vladimir Putin and his forays into Ukraine, it was pretty clear that "Ich bin ein Estonian" was not the rallying cry most Americans were looking for.

In the midst of all that, Mr. Obama let it be known that his highly anticipated Executive Order to make major changes in immigration policy would be delayed until after theNovember 4
elections.

If, as most now believe, Republicans will organize the Senate next year, it is not at all clear how much political power will be available to him during the expected Lame Duck Session between the

November 4, 2014 election and the opening of the new Congress on or about January 3, 2015.

Barack Obama's job approval according to the RealClearPolitics.com average of major polls shows the President stuck at 41.5 percent. The Gallup Daily Tracking Poll shows him at 38 percent approval overall through

Friday's polling - his all time low in the Gallup sequence.Looking at the latest crosstabs available which are through the end of August, Blacks supported the President with an 89 percent approval rating, but only 30 percent of Whites approved.

That may not surprise many, but here's where political types' eyes will widen. Among the category of respondents who identified themselves as a "Pure Independent" President Obama's approval was also at only 30%. These numbers, remember, largely portray the President's approval before the damaging "no strategy" blunder. The President's political power is dissipating like the sand under your feet at the beach when the tide is going out.

I was the spokesman for then-Governor Bob McDonnell's legal team through the summer and early fall last year. I know a lot about what went on, much of which is still covered by my tenuous link to attorney-client privilege. Here's my feeling - notwithstanding the trial that ended in all those guilty verdicts last week: If stupidity exhibited by elected officials becomes actionable under Federal law, the U.S. House and Senate will have a tough time gathering a quorum.

My other take-away from my brief time in Richmond is that the only difference between the way business is done in Virginia and, say, Louisiana is the public nature of the "gifts" to officials. In Virginia, they just smile and nod. In Louisiana they say things, like: "Hell, yes he gave me a boat, but I earned it!" The silence from both Republicans and Democrats in the Statehouse as McDonnell twisted slowly in the wind for most of his final year in office was deafening. But, if you listened very closely, I believe you could hear the murmured prayers of many other officials who similarly made liberal use of the almost-non-existent gift laws in Virginia. Bob McDonnell's term of Governor will, of course, be measured by his conviction, but he was a good Governor who, his dreadful judgment in his private life notwithstanding, left the Commonwealth better than he found it.