From the Wishful Thinking Disguised as Journalism Department comes Time's Mark Halperin and his new article "How Obama's Bitter Enemies May Give Him a Boost" (complete with the USSR-symbolism photo to the left). How low would Halperin go in evaluating the Obama-loathing of conservatives? The right wouldn't even unite the country if Martians invaded?!
The times of crisis in which Obama has governed only exacerbate the situation. It doesn't take a degree in psychology to recognize the explanatory formula "economic/environmental/international crises+search for a scapegoat=widespread Obama hatred." And it is evidence of how much matters have deteriorated that it is impossible to imagine conservatives rallying around Obama in the face of a new disaster, like the left did (albeit briefly) after September 11, 2001 for Bush. Even if the President repelled a Martian invasion, the right's reaction would likely be the same as it was after the Christmas Day bombing attempt, or the Times Square failed attack, or the current oil spill: denigration of Obama's competence, suspicion of his motives, and implicit or explicit hope for his failure.
It is hard not to smell Rush Limbaugh-bashing in that paragraph. But it's suggesting that conservatives are unpatriotic in their unwillingness to rally around the president in a time of crisis. It's insulting and just wrong to suggest that if the country really felt in peril like after 9/11, that conservatives wouldn't rally around the flag. Apparently, the right lives in an electronic cocoon without liberal bias:
The late, longtime New Yorker critic Pauline Kael was said to have expressed confusion over Richard Nixon's landslide reelection in 1972 — because no one she knew had actually voted for him. To borrow that notion, conservatives today imagine that everyone views the current occupant of the White House as they do: Barack Obama is the worst president ever. Conventional wisdom posits that such a potent right-wing, anti-Obama sentiment will diminish the President's power — enough for Republicans to vanquish Democrats in November, regain control of Congress, and weaken the incumbent for 2012.
But this myopia has been created within an electronic cocoon of Fox News, talk radio, conservative websites, and prominent rhetoric from Republican leaders, all passionately reinforcing the message that the Obama Administration is disastrous on an historic scale. It's a message transported as gamely by rank-and-file Republicans as by erudite conservative columnists with national readerships.
It's rich for Halperin to suggest that there is more "apocalpytic irrationality" to come against Obama, completely forgetting that the liberal media specialized in apocalpytic irrationality about Iraq and Katrina and mini-scandals like the U.S. attorney firings. But he went there:
Obama has become a bit prickly at times during these past sixteen months, but he is more apt to brush off the barbs as proof positive that the opposition is losing — and losing it.
In the run-up to the 2010 midterms we have already seen that the anti-Obama forces are expressing their disagreements with the administration in terms far more personal than political, tinged with an apocalyptic irrationality. The centrifugal force exerted on conservative leaders towards the extreme wing of their party is bound to lead to even more magnified rhetoric in the next few years. The contrast between those excessive attacks and Obama's famous cool will serve him, and the Democrats, well.
Within the overheated conservative bubble there is little room for discussions of serious policy alternatives to deal with America's problems, reminders that the country is typically drawn to optimistic candidates (like Reagan and Obama), and weighty appeals to the center of the electorate. If Obama is the worst president ever, conservatives seem to believe, why do they need to say anything more than that to take control of Congress and, then, get rid of him? But while the conservatives' ultimate condemnation rallies their core base supporters and has resonated with some centrist voters, over time it is unlikely to produce a majority against the administration.