Just over a week ago a trifecta of “scandals” broke upon the Obama administration. It started when congressional Republicans hoodwinked ABC into reporting on fabricated emails. Things got worse when news broke that IRS agents had given more scrutiny to right leaning organizations while considering tax exempt status. The crescendo was the revelation that the Justice Department had cast a very wide net in subpoenaing the AP’s phone records.
The past week is widely accepted as one of the worst for this administration, but what has happened to Obama’s approval ratings? Despite the misleading headlines from the right wing echo chamber, Obama has gotten a bump. On the Gallup daily tracking poll ending the 14th of May, his approve - disapprove numbers were 47/47. The numbers as of the 18th of May are 51/42 approve – disapprove.
The tendency of Obama’s political opponents to overplay their hand when they think they have an advantage does not serve them well when real issues that may actually reflect badly upon the administration hit the news. The far right have been cartoonishly obsessed with Barack Obama since the 2008 campaign, and it only seems to be getting worse as time goes by. Who can blame regular folks who witness the spectacle from the right over the last five years essentially ignoring the caterwauling from that side of the aisle, no matter how important the issue seems to be to those of us who are news junkies. To wit…
IMHO, the widespread perception of the Republican hatred of Obama started with Sarah Palin’s speech to the 2008 Republican convention. She threw all sorts of red meat and the right positively loved it. In between lipstick on a pig jokes and folksy recollections of life in the wilds of Elleskeh, she decried Obama as soft on terrorism and not fit for the presidency. Palin maintained that attack style on the campaign trail, reminding audiences that Obama “palled around with terrorists” and accusing him of being a socialist. The introduction for the American people of the right wing opinion on President Obama was that his opponents were ferociously hostile, blindly attacking any perceived weakness and outlandish in their approach.
While the nation celebrated Obama’s election conservatives could not hide their contempt. The very night of his inauguration Republican power brokers met and determined to do everything in their power to subvert the new president. At that very moment the nation was in the depths of an economic crisis not experienced since the Great Depression. America lost 524,000 jobs in December of 08. 2.9 million jobs were lost in 2008. Yet, rather than meeting to determine the best way to work with the new administration to pull the nation from the brink of economic collapse Republicans determined to do all in their power to cause political harm to the new president.
Republicans set about obstructing at historic levels, decimating the previous record for Senate filibusters. The obstructionism was so bad that Republicans found themselves voting against bills they had sponsored, simply because the president expressed support for the issue.
The overt hostility of congressional Republicans to President Obama was demonstrated early in his term when Rep. Joe Wilson shouted “you lie” from the floor during a presidential address to a joint session of congress. While most of the nation was appalled at that breach of decorum, Wilson quickly became a hero to conservatives.
These are all very early examples of the unhinged behavior of the right to President Obama. Orly Taitz and the birthers, death panels, the blatherings of Donald Trump, Obama the secret Muslim, racist Obama images, Obama hates white people… these and many other examples introduced the nation towards the absolute hatred of Obama by the right. Each one is cartoonishly silly and the accumulated effect of this unreasoned vitriol for the president must have an effect on the average American. Not the effect of convincing the audience that Obama is a socialist Islamist despot who wants to kill your family because they are white. The impression is that his opposition are a bunch of unreasonable clowns.
The drumbeat of righty Obama hatred has not subsided as time passed, it has only grown stronger. Which leads us to the answer as to why a sudden outbreak of Obama scandal has not brought his poll numbers lower, as many expected. In fact the progress of the past week provides a case study on why Obama has developed a coat of Teflon: for while the mainstream media pondered the damage being caused by the big 3 scandals the right wing media echo chamber ESSPLODED with outrage because a Marine held an umbrella over Obama during a rain shower. No one ever foresaw the obscure permutations of “Marine umbrella protocol” being used to ruthlessly attack the president, but the right wing freaks did their best when they saw the chance! Wouldn’t most folks who have any sense of self awareness just sort of know how silly that sort of attack makes one look?
If you are a normal citizen who does not follow the news on a regular basis, every time you hear anything from conservatives about Obama it is some completely overblown crazy eyed conspiracy theory which automatically casts the president in the worst light possible. And now we are supposed to get all high dudgeon-ed about the IRS, The AP, and Benghazi?
Maybe if conservatives weren’t such clowns when it came to President Obama they would be taken more seriously when it might actually count.