Obama’s No Lock for Reelection

by Ramesh Ponnuru

Rush Limbaugh comments on my latest Bloomberg column:

I guess I should preface this by saying that I’ve read a couple pieces in what I call the mainstream media, even mainstream conservative media. One piece was, “Hey, hey, hey, don’t overreact. You know, this stuff happens in America all the time. We go through our ups and downs, and there are always challenges to America as founded. We’ve always triumphed, and we always will.” It was Ramesh Ponnuru who writes at National Review Online and had an opinion piece at Bloomberg in which he basically spelled out how Obama is a lock to win reelection, citing the Reagan and Carter races and what was different about them today versus Reagan-Carter and the electorate and so forth.

I’m looking at both of these pieces and I’m wondering, “What do they not see that I see?” or, “How come they are not seeing this as drastically as we all do?”  I mean, this is not precedented.  There are a lot of us who believe that we have not come this close to losing our country before, not eternally, anyway.  So we’ve faced unbelievable obstacles, we’ve overcome all of them, but I think what’s happening now is that the federal government is exercising power that it has never before had.  Large ways, small ways.  The federal government is exercising power for a specific purpose.  The federal government under Obama is exercising power to undo what America stands up for.

I don’t recall that ever happening, and I must admit that when I read pieces by people I respect and have known and read, I wonder: Why don’t they see this? Why is this just the usual, normal ebb and flow political cycling to people? . . . How can people on our side not see what’s being done to the country via the federal government?  How can they not see how this is different?  I ask myself that — as an open-ended question, not as an insulting question.  I’m genuinely curious: How do they not see it?

I can see why Limbaugh took my column to say that Obama “is a lock to win reelection” based on the headline (which I didn’t write). What I meant to convey wasn’t that Obama is guaranteed to win — I think he is more vulnerable now than he ever has been. It’s that he understands the race better, I fear, than the Republicans do. He is in that in-between place in the polls where he’s not a cinch to win or a sure loser, and in races like that the challenger has to do more than present himself as an acceptable alternative to a failed incumbent. The challenger has to clear a higher bar than that. Right now it is not clear to me that Romney, for example, understands that.

The more important you think it is to beat Obama, the more important that we not fool ourselves about how easy it will be. I see a lot of signs of public dissatisfaction with Obama. I don’t think that most voters share conservatives’ sense of alarm about him and his agenda. They are beginning to see him as in over his head, but they don’t see him as an unprecedented threat to American liberty.

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