It's not a good time to be an Establishment anything. Especially a Republican.
Last week, Bloomberg released a new poll showing President Barack Obama at a 3 year high in approval ratings. Meanwhile, the Republican Party had a favorability rating of 35%, the lowest ever in a Bloomberg poll.
Meanwhile, the sequester is looming, and the public backs Obama and Democrats. From the Bloomberg article:
Public views of congressional Republicans’ record places an added burden on them in the standoff over automatic spending cuts. Americans by 43 percent to 34 percent say they are more to blame than Obama and Democrats for “what’s gone wrong” in Washington. Still, another 23 percent aren’t sure which side bears more responsibility.This past Sunday, Bob Woodward, dean of the Establishment press, hit Obama as "moving the goal posts" in regards to demanding revenue as part of a balanced plan to attack the deficit. Of course, that is nothing but the cry of an Establishment figure who is seeing his power and influence slipping away. As detailed here and here, revenue was always part of the deal to replace the sequester. The ones moving the goal posts are the Republicans, as that's what they always do. That Woodward, cheerleader of the Bush Administration's wars, is now turning his fire on a President who refuses to give him the same access is no surprise. The fact that it's having so little effect in the real world outside of the Beltway is another indication of the problems that the Establishment is facing with Obama.
Republicans “are not willing to work at all with the president,” said poll respondent Horace Lee Boyd, 64, a political independent and retired wholesale merchandiser who lives in Cullman, Alabama. “When you cease to compromise, you cease to accomplish anything. We’re at a stalemate. He’s willing to compromise and they aren’t.”
The fact is that all the good and great were betting on Obama losing this past November. Everyone was getting ready to greet Mitt Romney as the great Mormon savior who would restore the Republic to its rightful parameters, consigning this 4 year interregnum to the memory hole.
But a funny thing happened on the way to the Restoration: Obama won re-election. And he not only won it, but won it handily. And he not only won it handily, but won it by building on the coalition of 2008. This new coalition is only getting stronger with each passing year. At least on the national level, it promises to put any dreams the GOP has of winning the White House to bed. (Unless, of course, GOP controlled blue states pass Electoral College gerrymandering laws. We have to be vigilant about that, and fight them every step of the way. Of course, my solution would be to do away with the Electoral College and have a direct popular vote. But that's for another essay.) What Obama has proven is that a Democrat can not only win with only 40% of the white vote, but win quite easily. This fact has fallen upon the GOP and its enablers like a lead weight, crippling them with fear for the future.
So, what to do? Well, like Chile in 1973, the plan seems to be to "make them scream": punish all of us who voted the Usurper back into office by sending the economy back into a tailspin with the automatic budget cuts. Again, there's another little problem with that: as the Bloomberg poll shows, the public is more than prepared to blame the GOP for the pain inflicted by the cuts, not the White House or the Senate Democrats. Talking Points Memo has a very cogent piece on the Establishment's Obama Derangement Syndrome up today. (I knew I should've finished this piece on Sunday like I had planned.) The GOP's insanity has fully taken over the broader Establishment, which is conditioned to accept Republican narratives, and which spreads those narratives—or tries to—among the general public. What they have fully realized, this late in the game, is that Obama is more than just another politician. He is what those of us on this side have always realized he is: a transformational figure, who is seeking nothing less than to remake the commonwealth and social compact. And he's laying the groundwork for maintaining influence in the Democratic Party after his term is over; transforming his campaign apparatus into the mother of all Super PACs is an indication that he is in this for the long haul. No Democrat will be able to advance far without OFA's imprimatur. What OFA will be is a true grass-roots movement which will affect both national and Congressional politics for the foreseeable future.
"Obama Unleashed" is already having an effect. Polling indicates that the public sides with Obama on all of his major initiatives. Last night's NBC poll shows that voters favor raising the minimum wage, enacting stricter gun laws, and creating a path for undocumented migrants to achieve citizenship. This Pew Poll shows that the public views the GOP as "principled"; however, those "principles" are extreme and out of touch with where most Americans are. Obama is winning the narrative, and it would be hard to believe that the Republicans can come up with a credible counterargument any time soon, when every action they take confirms the negative view which the majority of Americans has of them.
As goes the GOP, so goes the Establishment. Woodward's Sunday diatribe is a symptom of this; so is the White House press corps' bleating about "transparency" and "access". The 21st Century affords an activist President many avenues by which to reach voters. Obama is utilizing all of these, bypassing the self-appointed gatekeepers of the chattering classes. A large segment of his coalition doesn't watch the cable news networks, or read the New York Times and Washington Post. It gets its news from the Internet—sometimes from news websites, often from links found on Twitter. People are more apt to watch their local news than the cable networks, and Obama gives local reporters plentiful access. What Obama is doing is democratizing access to information about the White House. He will sit with "60 Minutes"; but he will also sit with KGO in San Francisco, or the Charlotte Observer. He does so not because those outlets are "easier", but because they reach the people he wants to reach. They reach the great unwashed, which is what terrifies the Beltway mandarins the most. That is why they're in full panic mode, and why their end is already written.