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October 23, 2011 - Ray Hall (Archive)
In July 2008 I wrote in this blog that Barack Obama would win the presidency in a walk. Although I wrote his election was not etched in stone it was etched in the steel ball the Republicans had screwed up. Despite a thin resume, five years a member of the Illinois Senate and four years in the U.S. Senate, the former community organizer barely broke a sweat in his successful bid to become the leader of the free world.
By 2008 the American people had become so disenchanted with the Bush-Cheney Administration that nearly any Democrat would have been elected. But this time and with a stratospheric unemployment rate both conventional wisdom and historical precedent are predicting an easy win for the Republican challenger. However, despite being cast in the role of an “underdog” President Obama will be reelected in 2012 to a second term.
It will not be as easy for him this time around; he first must reconnect with his partisan base, convince the youthful techno savvy. the unemployed and that broad spectrum of independent voters that he remains their best choice. The President has a big hill to climb, but once again, the Republicans are proving to be his biggest asset.
The Tea Party, with an assist from Grover Norquist and his “no tax” pledge has locked mainstream Republicans in a death spiral and demonstrated to America that Republicans are incapable of governance. Their willingness to bankrupt America over the debt ceiling, their “no-tax” pledge, their insistence on using filibusters to thwart jobs for out of work Americans, and Paul Ryan’s budget are bitter pills for a majority of Americans.
Buoyed by Tea Party exuberance the Republican primary attracted extreme candidates tailor made for that radical segment of primary voters and pushed more thoughtful candidates to extreme positions. Compared with other candidates Mitt Romney looks like a “flip-flopping” liberal to Tea Party conservatives and New Jersey’s Chris Christy wisely chose patience over political suicide when he declined to enter the fray.
All of that radicalism bodes well for President Obama if he is able to shift the focus from high unemployment and force voters to make a choice. A skillful challenger might be able to shake off most of that extremism and carry the fight to the President, however there is another, and newer element that even the most adroit campaigner cannot deflect. So far in the Republican primary debates Tea Party loyalists have engaged in such coarse, vulgar behavior that it has created a toxic atmosphere for their candidates regardless of the ultimate nominee.
Applauding mass executions, booing a gay veteran, calling for the death of a hypothetical young man without health insurance and a chilling acclamation for Herman Cain’s ringing condemnation of the Wall Street protestors have left an indelible stain.
There is a reason the bi-partisan presidential debate commission disallows ovations during a presidential debate, such exhibitions can backfire. Tea Party audiences during the Republican primary debates have shattered the illusion of a “compassionate conservative.”
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Double click to enlarge) A Tea Party Rally