Thursday, February 23, 2012

How lucky is Barack Obama? Very lucky

We have been so busy pointing to the utter incompetence of the GOP presidential field or marvelling at the radical social conservatism coming from some of them and how toxic that would be in the general election that we may not have sufficiently considered the other side of the equation. By that I mean the fact that President Barack Obama must consider himself the luckiest man on the face of the earth, to borrow a phrase.

I mean, the economy is still weak and, even though Obama didn't start the fire, he could easily be blamed for not putting it out fast enough, as unfair as that may be. But that's politics. You play the hand you're dealt and are judged accordingly.

While I would never have necessarily said Obama was going to be the underdog in 2012, the only way he might have been favoured, in my view, would be if the economy moved off centre stage either because it was improving or because the other guys foolishly decided to focus on something else or even because opposition candidates so lacked basic political skill that the focus of the campaign would be on each of them, and the eventual nominee, instead of the economy.

Well, guess what? The economy may be improving slightly but, perhaps more importantly, the other guys are talking about restricting the accessibility of birth control or whether or not women should be in the workplace or the extent to which the devil has infiltrated American institutions among other crazy things. Okay, only Rick Santorum is talking about these things, but it's pretty much blocking out the stuff Republicans should be talking about and setting the agenda in a very destructive way for them.

The other piece, of course, is that the GOP field is so weak that even with the economy in the shape it's in, they don't have a credible delivery system to carry the message. So, they're off message, and even when they're on message they're screwing up because the supposed front-runner is a rich guy so out of touch with the lives of most Americans that he's a walking, talking billboard for the Democrats' key message, i.e., Republicans are the party of privilege, who want to keep the middle class down.

Democratic strategist, James Carville, always good for a quote, was being interviewed on the Imus in the Morning radio program recently, and told Don Imus, apropos of all this, that though it was possible Obama could lose the election because of an event, he would not lose it because of a Republican candidate. Carville, an experienced political hand, knows that in politics things can go wrong, but he doesn't think there is a Republican strong enough to beat Obama on merit.

As he said:

Right now, things are starting to perk up a little bit. Who knows? This is the — no Republican can beat Obama. Events can beat Obama. He’s not going to get beat by a Republican. Now events could come in and cause him to lose the election. But that’s it right now. That was not the case three months ago.

And the quotable quote?

You know what, he is — if this president, if I had anything in the world I would love to do? I would love to go to Las Vegas and stand by him at a craps table. ‘Mr. President, you just throw the dice. I’ve got my money on every roll.' He’s a lucky, lucky, lucky guy.

You can find the full clip here.

James Carville is no fool and he is clearly hedging his bets because anything can happen in politics. But who saw the GOP screwing up this much when this all started?

The worst economic downturn since the Great Depression and, as Carville taught us all in 1992, "It's the economy, stupid."

It's hard to believe anyone could fail to grasp that these days.

Yes, Barack Obama is a very lucky man.

(Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost.)

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