Political analyst Charlie Cook, at National Journal, sets out the dynamics of the 2012 presidential election:
“The 2012 presidential election is shaping up to be one of oddest in memory and potentially far more dramatic than one might guess. Obviously, the general election is still more than 14 months away — and, in politics, and for that matter anything involving human behavior, predictions are dangerous. But the dynamics that seem to be emerging are fascinating.
On one hand, we have an incumbent president with dismally low job-approval ratings; his signature legislative accomplishment of health care reform remains very unpopular, and he is presiding over an enormously weak and worsening economy. This is a combination sufficiently bad to prevent any president’s reelection.
On the other hand, we have an opposing party whose center of gravity and energy levels have swung so far to one side of the ideological spectrum as to have been designed to alienate the independent and swing voters, the people who will effectively decide this presidential election. To put it more simply, this election is the Republican Party’s to lose, and yet, they may pull it off, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.”
Judging from his recent rhetoric, President Obama shares Cook’s assessment. He seems to have abandoned efforts to get the Republicans to say yes to various proposals, a hope that was probably vain in the first place. Instead, he’s going to force them to say no, repeatedly, to more popular proposals and hope that in the process they confirm public fears that they have become extreme and uncompromising.
– Jay Bookman