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E.J’s Happy Talk About the President’s Election Problem

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The president has a re-election problem: People increasingly don’t like him and a significant majority think he is incompetent. To these woes are added his increasing lack of confidence in front of a microphone —think Steve Sax trying to throw to first— and his testiness. The tiny drops in unemployment may continue for the next nineteen months, but the rate won’t be below 7% in the best of circumstances and who knows where inflation and gas will be. In short, he’s in a world of political hurt.

Loyalists will spread a different word because if the “loser recognition factor” gets traction, the doom will settle sooner rather than later. Thus E.J. Dionne cheerfully tosses out that the president is “strongly favored” in November 2012, and that this feels like 1988 to him but with the Republicans struggling to try and come up with their own candidate. Nice spin, except it is absurd.

Yes, there is a lot of chatter –from MSM and the left– that the GOP is having trouble rallying around a candidate. Wonderfully disconnected from reality, that take, and dependent on a reality TV star’s willingness to vamp. In fact Mitt Romney enjoys comfortable leads in serious polls of states’ with primaries, and has closed a gap with the president far before he ought to have done so. From today’s Wall Street Journal story on the president’s re-election challenges:

In a hypothetical presidential election matchup against Republican former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, currently seen as the GOP front-runner, Mr. Obama now holds only a one-percentage-point lead, 46% to 45%, according to Marist. In January, that lead was 13 points.

The New York Times buries Romney’s favorable rating among Republicans in paragraph 12 of today’s story that carries the grim headline warning for Republicans that “Poll Finds Lack of Passion for GOP Candidates.” Dig into the story though, and you find that in fact of the Republicans polled about Romney “42 percent said they viewed him favorably and 15 percent said they viewed him unfavorably.”

Oh, so the headline and the first ten paragraphs don’t tell the story that this one number does –that the GOP frontrunner is enjoying a nearly 3 to 1 favorable to unfavorable ratio among Republicans? Great reporting that. The story likewise doesn’t mention that the president’s Gallup favorability number ha crashed to 41%!

Right now Team Obama is staring $5.00 gas in the face and a Libyan adventure that is making people think that the president’s incompetence has infected the NATO allies. His petulance with the Texas reporter this week telegraphed that his sense of entitlement hasn’t lessened after two-plus years in the White House, and he is still burdened with Pelosi and Reid as colleagues in his ruling troika and sleepy, slow Joe Biden as his running mate (until the fall of 2012 only, when Hillary and Bill arrive to try and save the day.)

If Romney falters, Tim Pawlenty has put together a superb early campaign, and Newt will be keeping the GOP attacks coming on the specifics of the president’s many failures. If those three (and governors Daniels and Barbour should they get in) simply limit the “debates” in which they appear and appear only with each other, the pounding the president will take over gas, the debt and his unpresidential tone will be devastating.

E.J.’s looking backward for a clue as to how this race will unfold, but this president has been a series of firsts, and the nature of the repudiation of his Alinskyism and his economic and foreign policy incoherence that is on the way will also be a first. It is tough to make Carter’s loss in 1980 look like a well-run affair, but Team Obama is shooting for that honor. $5 a gallon gas, $1500 gold and 8.8% unemployment.

Mitt Romney joins me on today’s program to talk about the S&P move this week as well as the Libyan fiasco and American silence in the face of the key revolution in the area in Syria. The same invite is out to Tim Pawlenty and Newt.

Nice try, E.J. How’s the effort going to move that bridge?

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