Thursday, July 05, 2012

A Little Harsh On Romney

Frustrated writer, sometime columnist, pundit, and professional neocon William Kristol (who, by the way, looks like he's related to Billy Crystal)  rhetorically asked in his Weekly Standard blog "Is it too much to ask Mitt Romney to get off autopilot and actually think about the race he's running?"

More significantly, the editors of the unofficial house organ of the Republican Party, the Wall Street Journal, ran an editorial maintaining "If Mitt Romney loses his run for the White House, a turning point will have been his decision Monday to absolve President Obama of raising taxes on the middle class."

Responding to the suddenly fashionable hand-wringing from GOP heavyweights about the Romney campaign, Salon's Alex Pareene is right about so much- and wrong on one point.

Pareene correctly notes, "Mitt Romney will definitely accuse Obama of raising taxes" and it is, after all, only early July.     He recognizes as "an awful idea" Kristol's desire "to hear policy specifics from Romney," which the WSJ also suggests for the candidate.  He notices the Journal's "point is actually just to hammer Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom for being sort of feckless and horrible at mesaging, and to let the Romney campaign know that the Journal will be telling them which things to say, thank you very much."    

Recognizing, further, that "Romney, for all his flaws, was the best candidate to face Obama this year," Pareene finds Republicans are "whining how it's harder to beat Obama than thy have always thought it ought to be."   They are gearing up, if Romney is defeated, to blaming the campaign, as well as nomination of the individual generally considered the least conservative candidate.

Top Republicans, including the Wall Street Journal, William Kristol, and Rush Limbaugh, seem to believe that Barack Obama should be easily defeated for re-election.    "The Romney campaign," Pareene argues, is doing the absolute best it can running against an incumbent president who remains broadly popular."     The campaign itself, and the ex-governor as a presidential candidate, have been underrated.    But, as I never get tired of saying, Barack Obama's personal popularity is an urban myth.

Pareene links to Real Clear Politics, which presents favorable-unfavorable results from dozens of surveys since the beginning of the calendar year from various firms.    Although the wording differs slightly- very slightly- from poll to poll, it is typically similar to that in the last (from CNN/Opinion Research), in which respondents are told "We'd like to get your overall opinion of some people in the news. As I read each name, please say if you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of these people -- or if you have never heard of them."

The last eight surveys give the President an average of +6.5, in which there are 6.5% more individuals holding a favorable, than unfavorable, view of Obama.     That might seem mildly impressive until one considers that a) Americans generally like their presidents personally, or at least think they do; 2) some people say, however implausibly, that they like everyone or at least hate no one; and 3) the president is black and it's very uncomfortable for many Caucasians to admit they don't like a black person- especially when his election was an historic first.     (That, ironically, demonstrates how far we have not come in the matter of race relations.); 4) the somewhat positive results seemingly contradict results of other polls pertaining to the President.

Barack Obama is of the United Church of Christ denomination, more generally Protestant, and even more generally Christian.    He was born in the State of Hawaii, of the nation of the United States.   (He even presented, to appropriate fanfare, a long term birth certificate, probably more evidence of birth than any other U.S. President has.)

Why, then, are many Americans unconvinced Barack Obama was born in their own country- and did the Public Religion Research Institute find approximately two months ago that a mere "36% of respondents correctly identify Barack Obama as Protestant or just Christian?"      This is, folks, still largely a nation of Christians, though our values might more correctly be characterized as Judeo-Christian (or instead, in some cases, off-kilter).    Most Americans identify with a Christian denomination, as has every President, to one extent or another.     If these Americans believe Barack Obama may not be a Christian, it's likely they are not enamored of him- and not surprisingly, the ignorance is greatest among white evangelical voters, few of whom are members of the Barack Obama Fan Club.      

Despite doubts about the President's religious affiliation (and nation of birth), Obama holds an advantage in the upcoming election.    But the political victory handed the Administration by Chief Justice Roberts,  as well as the inept response by the Romney camp, are of relatively little import.   Far more significant is the nomination of the GOP of probably its strongest candidate- and the release of six economic reports before Election Day.

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