Presidential approval is again campaign Topic A

So, we know it’s been crystal clear for a while now that although Barack Obama made history in 2008 as the first person of color elected president, a significant percentage of the population became and has remained highly perturbed over this particular American landmark. They’ve shown it in any number of ways, the mass of them dutifully heeding the constant war chants of designated spear carriers, intended to paint President Obama as the electorate’s ultimate faux pas and nightmare. So we get that. But is it simply that, jungle-like, the rules governing slaughter by these carnivores assembled on the political landscape are that there are indeed no rules? The continuing urge in their ranks to reach into seemingly forbidden territory in the course of “take down” maneuvers confirms a “nothing is sacred” m.o. As in, recently identifying scoring possibilities in the tragedy of the doomed Malaysian jet, no less.

When some of the usual right-flank suspects zeroed in on the ill-fated flight as providing another Obama bashing opportunity, it dialed up the Senator Joe McCarthy scare tactics period of the 1950s. Specifically, the clash, during a Senate hearing, between McCarthy and counsel for the U.S. Army Joseph Welch, who famously excoriated the Wisconsin senator and his communist witch hunt paranoia: “Have you no sense of decency at long last?”

By this time, one ought be well convinced that among the familiar corps of rabidly reactionary voices that despise this president, a sense of decency is altogether factored out. No decency and, as always, looking to bust the absurdity charts yet again. For this group, because the missing plane was American-made and there were three Americans reportedly on board, was justification for the American president to be “more aggressive” in response to news of the disaster. Which is to say, a superior Uncle Sam shoving aside the pipsqueak Malaysians and taking charge! Sprayed across the blogosphere and on TV screens welcoming of it, was this serving of imperialist tripe.

A basher who, if not rightfully belonging with the morally decrepit bunch advocating the Malaysian madness, “paradox” is probably the most charitable label he may have earned, is John McCain. The senator’s chameleon-ish core tracks from the classiness of correcting someone who, during the ’08 presidential campaign, sought to disparage Obama, to sounding off in demeaning fashion about the president on any given issue. As a former p.o.w, McCain sees security/defense matters as his métier. And he evidently believes the hawkish take he maintains on such issues is the right stuff, never mind its being out of step with solid majority sentiment in America. No surprise that he has harshly criticized the president for not getting this country militarily involved in the Russian dustup with Ukraine. In his characterization of Obama as weak and no match for Russia’s Vladimir Putin, at least McCain has a track record that includes a central presence in issues like immigration and campaign finance reform, to lend credence to claims of his opposing Obama being policy driven, as distinct from the visceral dislike routinely emanating from hard-right types.

The steady stream of anti-Obama chatter – whether outright propagandist smears or couched as legit differences in policy direction – is right now all geared for deadly aim on this year’s mid-term elections. Republicans apparently believe that, like the mid-terms four years ago, they have firepower to do serious damage to any Democratic hopes of gaining ground in House membership and of even retaining their Senate majority. And as it was in 2010, the GOP rally cry is again health care reform tied to the president. The Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) bumpy rollout made for a political and public relations albatross for Obama and Democrats that put them on the defensive and hoping that time and positive results in the program would improve their standing. Reports have indicated measurable progress being made in the program since the online sign-up process got overhauled – something the GOP spin will of course completely ignore. For Democrats, the timing couldn’t be worse for a bad ACA launch, coming as it did after Republicans were back on their heels in the wake of recklessness on that side of the aisle that precipitated last year’s government shutdown. A sure-fire momentum breaker that turn of events was for Democrats.

Looking toward this year’s critical mid-terms, the Democratic leadership has been talking about the need to markedly increase base turnout come November. Democrats could certainly see results not in their favor if they can’t come up with a strategy for reversing the trend of the other side being more fired up in off-year voting. Republican plans to accentuate the ACA negative notwithstanding, one would think there’s a lot available to Obama and Democratic combatants with which to battle.

The overarching reality is that pocketbook issues being pushed by Democrats, like a minimum wage increase and pay equity for women, have the kind of broad-based appeal that shouldn’t be wasted. Ditto, immigration reform for targeted sectors. If the loss of both houses of Congress and the president’s lame duck status arriving much earlier than they would like, doesn’t provide motivation to ensure a ramped-up ground game Election Day, it’s hard to imagine what else would.

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