Jewish World Review Sept. 28, 2011 / 29 Elul, 5771
A Bear of a Problem for Obama
By Jonah Goldberg
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | "You woke the bears! Why did you do that?"
That's from one of my favorite scenes in "Anchorman." In the Oscar-robbed film, Ron Burgundy (played by
Watching President Obama these days reminds me of that scene.
But Obama promised to change that. He was tired of the timid, almost apologetic talk. He was going to be an FDR, or at least a Reagan for liberalism. He was going to "fundamentally transform" the country. And to those who counseled that Democrats can't govern that way, Obama and his followers responded with shouts of "Yes, we can!"
You might think it was those shouts that woke the bear, but that's not what happened. After all, Obama enjoyed stunning popularity when he entered the Oval Office.
No, it wasn't words but deeds that roused the beast. The poorly crafted, deeply partisan stimulus was like a sharp stick to the bear's belly. But it was "Obamacare" that ended the hibernation.
Despite his deployment of every rhetorical weapon in the progressive arsenal, Obama could never make the thing popular. At town hall meetings, the bear growled and snorted, in a posture that the experienced psephological woodsman understands means "leave the bear alone." The Democratic response was to mock the grizzly.
Of the myriad miscalculations made by Obama, among the most fateful has to be his assumption that a repudiation of
Obama probably understands this dynamic better as his own poll numbers sink not only among independents but with his base, which has convinced itself that his -- and the country's -- problems stem from appeasing the conservative bear. Obama's bizarre harangue of the Congressional Black Caucus on Saturday -- "Stop complaining, stop grumbling, stop crying" -- was a testament to the cratering enthusiasm of his biggest supporters.
The dilemma for Obama is that non-liberals don't see the situation the same way. As nearly every poll shows, more than 70 percent of Americans believe we're on the wrong track, and the number of people calling themselves conservative continues to grow, as does the number of moderates who say they lean to the right. According to Pew, the average voter places himself twice as far from Democrats as he does from Republicans.
And it's not just about labels (though labels matter). According to Gallup, Americans believe
So here's Obama in a very rough spot. He needs more than just his base to win, yet he can't win without his base. But he can't secure it without slapping the bear even more. And unlike Ron Burgundy, he's really got no one to blame but himself.
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