Worse, the Republicans are now in the position of nit-picking, cold-water dousing and general negativity that tends not to wear well over time. Once again, it seems to me, they have misjudged this president’s long game.
All they have now are scare stories and a narrative that simply cannot include the fact that millions more people have irrevocable health insurance than did before Obamacare. They do not have an alternative to offer the 36 million people whose health insurance would be disrupted or ended if repeal took place. Their current strategy – backed by endless propaganda – might yet work this fall. But the more it works this fall, the less it is likely to work thereafter. If the GOP regains the Senate, it seems to me that the case for a Democrat in the White House in 2016 will be much stronger, if only to protect the country from far right over-reach.
Now look at the economic forecast: the IMF is predicting growth of 2.8 percent this year and 3 percent in 2015, easily the best performance among Western economies. We may see further declines in unemployment. This does not seem to me to be compatible with declining support for Obama and his record. In fact, I’d be surprised – barring, of course, any number of game-changing events – if Obama’s approval ratings were not ticking up by the summer.
We’ve been here so many times before with this president – when he seems temporarily becalmed, inert, unable or unwilling to seize every moment. But over the long run, you see the virtues of persistence, relentlessness and pragmatic advance. The opes he once inspired may be dimmed or dashed right now; but in the cold light of day, they shouldn’t be. Like the slow, excruciating accumulation of delegates in the epic 2008 primary campaign, Obama never puts it away until he puts it away. But it’s coming. And more and more people are beginning to see it.