Grand Old Unpopularity
John Amato makes a good point. For all the talk about Obama's declining approval ratings, and about the overall unpopularity of the Democratic-led Congress and Democratic leaders like Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, shouldn't more attention be paid to the massive unpopularity of the Republicans? After all, their numbers -- as a party, as well as for party leaders like Mitch McConnell in the Senate and John Boehner in the House -- are abysmal:
Mitch McConnell is polling at an 18% approval rating. That's eighteen percent. John Boehner is polling at 12% approval rating. Just think about that one. And it doesn't take much to make him cry. Mitch and Boehner are viewed less favorably than Dick Cheney was during the dark days of the Bush administration. Why don't we hear about that on teevee?
The overall approval ratings of Congressional Republicans is 17% as a party! The Dems are taking their lumps over this chaotic time, but nowhere near the kinds of wounds the GOP are suffering. The media make it appear that all these teabaggers are rallying around the RNC and the country just loves the Beltway elites' favorite party, but that's not true at all.
Nope, not at all. Republicans claim to be optimistic about 2010 -- and they may very well be able to reduce the sizes of the Democratic majorities in Congress (though it's still a long way off, and I think Democrats will benefit from a recovering economy and, let's hope, health-care reform) -- but it's not like the country has abandoned the Democrats, and certainly not that it has embraced the Republicans.
In general, while Obama's numbers remain fairly high, there is widespread cynicism among the American people, some of it justified, and much of it is being directed at the country's political institutions, including those in Washington, most notably -- much to their discredit, given that the people elected them -- at their own elected officials. At the moment, the people don't care much for the politicians, or for either party, though that's nothing new. Anti-politics is built into America's DNA, and what has made it worse in recent years (decades) is not just corruption and criminality in the political class but the all-out assault on government by the right (which continues with the teabaggers, of course, as well as with the likes of Glenn Beck and his ilk, though anti-government rhetoric is widespread in the GOP and throughout conservatism), as well as, I must regretfully add, the growing civic irresponsibility of the people themselves.
But it's all relative, and, right now, the Republicans are doing far worse, if these polls are to be believed, than the Democrats. The problem is that the media aren't reporting this to the American people. Instead, they continue to hit Obama and the Democrats with declining approval ratings, ignoring the fact that, while low, the Democrats' numbers, and especially Obama's, are significantly better than the Republican ones.
The preference of the American people, however cynical and irresponsible they may be, is clear.