With President Obama’s domestic popularity at historic low and his international influence scarce, it is no coincidence that Democratic incumbents are reluctant to be seen with the President or wish to be associated directly with his agenda, says our U.S. correspondent Tomas Mega from Las Vegas, Nevada
This much should be certain about the 2014 mid-term election: President Barack Obama is not running for any office, either nationally or locally. No voter should be confused about this, but it’s understandable if they are. Just watch television anywhere from Connecticut to California and you’ll get the picture. Republican Super-Pac advertising is hammering away at every Democratic incumbent by tethering them to the massive unpopularity of the President. Obama is finished running for office but Republicans are determined that this election should be a referendum on his Presidency. Consequently, nearly all Democratic incumbents have spurned the President’s direct support.
Rejection is tough for anyone, especially when it comes from those you consider friends. It must be difficult for the President, because he has a genuine need to be liked. But President Obama hasn’t helped his Democratic colleagues much in recent months. His comment that ISIS was more of a “Junior Varsity” annoyance than a real threat has now proven to be rubbish. Ebola has claimed four in the USA to date, and has the administration and the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) back-peddling on what needs to be done to thwart a larger outbreak. Clearly, neither was prepared despite early assurances. A knife-wielding intruder recently jumped the White House fence and made his way deep into the President’s residence, meeting no resistance, not even a guard dog, resulting in the resignation of the first woman to head the United States Secret Service and more suggestions that the Administration and those closely associated with it are just not up to task.
The beheading of a woman in Oklahoma, lone-wolf attacks at the Canadian Parliament and a hatchet attack on New York City police officers, all committed by Muslims with apparent ISIS sympathies, has many Americans wondering why the President refuses to say these are acts of terrorism. Hours after the Canadian shootings, Prime Minister Stephen Harper was unambiguous in calling it a terror attack.
With his domestic popularity at historic low and his international influence scarce, it is no coincidence that Democratic incumbents are reluctant to be seen with the President or wish to be associated directly with his agenda. Their message to the President is “thanks, but no thanks.” But this doesn’t seem to bother Obama at all. Incredulously, the President recently stated that they are all “strong allies” who have “supported my agenda in Congress.” You have to feel some empathy for these Democratic incumbents; they must feel like alcoholics in denial.
While mid-term elections tend to be local and state affairs, Republicans are hoping for success tying incumbents and Democratic candidates to the muddle at the White House. Obama seems to be suffering from a paralysis of failure; both domestically and internationally. Immigration reform is dead, states continue to pass Draconian laws on women’s’ reproductive rights and voter identification, gun legislation is lifeless and labor unions continue to grumble about Obamacare. Internationally, the Middle East remains a mess and the President holds no sway with Vladimir Putin’s vision of a Greater Russia or Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s irritation in assisting the American backed Kurds with their fight against ISIS.
And there is the curious decision to deploy three to four thousand troops to West Africa to ‘fight’ Ebola. Largely a logistics exercise, one has to wonder why this isn’t a job ideally suited to contracted locals and expatriates versus the United States military. There is criticism that the troops are poorly trained for such a mission and they are not remotely being provided the same level of training or protection that health workers receive. This isn’t what the U.S. military is trained to do. Is Ebola a greater threat to the United States than ISIS? The conclusion must be yes, as the President refuses to send troops to fight ISIS.
While no one in the administration suggests that air strikes against ISIS will end their onslaught, talk of sending ground troops to Iraq is a taboo, despite polling which indicates that the American public recognizes it as the only way to defeat ISIS. The administration is in good company on this issue: European leaders have rhetorically slammed the apocalyptic disposition of the ISIS threat, but have turned their backs from any combat troop intervention.
All of this messiness has many pundits suggesting that the Democratic majority in the Senate will be lost, and Republican gains in the House of Representatives will give them the largest majority since 1946. If that happens, expect Obama to spend his days on the golf course and his nights signing all sorts of executive orders which will enrage Republican lawmakers.
The challenge for a Republican majority in both houses of Congress will be their ability to display a willingness to govern. If they spend the next two years dragging the previous six years of the Obama administration through endless hearings and investigations, rather than tending to the business of governing, Americans may turn on them. In 2016, impulsive voters may be inclined to say to the Republican majority and their presidential candidate, “thanks, but no thanks.”
ED’s Note: This article was published in the hard copy of Addis Standard before the recent mid-term election in the US
Photo Credit: The Associated Press