For my money, John Zogby is simply the best national pollster and political analyst in America. Through four presidential election cycles (2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012) I consulted his work closely and he was on the money through thick and thin every time. So when he sends out a stunning analysis that blows away a widely-held Conventional Wisdom on the eve of the president’s State of the Union speech, I listen carefully. And I recommend everyone else does too.
Zogby starts by noting the amazing “withering contempt,” with which the president’s many critics now regard him. He notes Peggy Noonan’s casual dismissal in the Wall Street Journal that “no one now listens to him (Obama),” and Marc Thiessen claiming that the American people will see the president as a “liar.” Coming from a former speechwriter for George W. Bush, that is more than a bit rich.
I would add Charles Krauthammer’s gloat at the height of the Obamacare web site embarrassment that it killed the liberal project of using big government to improve the lives of the American people, if not forever, at least for untold generations to come. (Can he really believe this nonsense?)
Yet, as Zogby then soberly notes, the actual facts do not at all support the contention that is a failed president and a busted administration.
Instead, Zogby writes in his analysis, that Obama “delivers his sixth State of the Union message not from a position of weakness. Instead, tonight we will see a confident, not defeated, President. His approval ticking up to the mid-forties, nothing to brag about but he is 30 points more popular than the institution he speaks before.”
Obama’s administration is far from a failure. The numbers speak for themselves. (Screenshot)
Stop and consider that raw fact for a moment. At the start of his sixth year in the presidency and after a fifth year widely regarded as endlessly embarrassing for him, America’s first black president and most liberal one in half a century is still three times as popular as the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.
How can a House-controlling Republican Party 30 percentage points behind the president in polls imagine it will hang on to all its seats in the coming midterm elections?
Yet the Republicans, as Politico noted last week, remain confident they will pick up five to 10 seats at least in the House in the mid-term elections.
To which I have the audacity to reply, “Not if these numbers hold out, they won’t.”
John Zogby recognizes this clearly. “The opposition GOP is losing, hopelessly split, in disarray, unfocused, prone to ham-handed comments about women and reproduction, with no message to women, especially young women, or minorities,” he writes.
Now think about that for a minute. Women comprise half the voting population of the United States. There are around 40 million African-Americans and 40 million Hispanic-Americans in the country, to amounting to close to 30 percent of the entire population. And that does not include other minority groups. And the GOP, as Zogby matter-of-factly says, is on the outs with the lot of them.
I have previously documented in these columns how Barack Obama’s 2013 was actually a surprisingly resilient and successful year for him – and for the American people. No cities were drowned in floods, killing thousands of people, as happened to New Orleans in George W. Bush’s fifth year. Manufacturing industry continued to modestly revive, compared with the decimation it suffered during the Bush years. And the enormous fracking energy mining boom continued unabated, with Obama at least having the good sense not to get in the way of it. Contrast that with the $13 billion or so Bush squandered on such absurd energy panaceas as biomass and corn ethanol.
State of the Union: President Obama is doing better than conservatives would have you believe.
The level of U.S. combat casualties in both Afghanistan and Iraq (wars Bush launched) is a fraction of what it was then.
Zogby also points out, “Unemployment is down to 6.7 percent, from a high of nearly 10 percent when Mr. Obama took office five years ago. GDP growth hovers between 3 percent and 3.2 percent, the highest rate of economic growth in years.
“After going eyeball to eyeball with the GOP on a budget deal, his opponents let the government shutdown once again – and once again suffered the consequences.”
And finally, “Despite a terrible rollout of the Affordable Care Act, President Obama now appears to be on the verge of success of his signature legislation achievement. When he stands before Congress and the American people tonight, he can claim well over 3 million subscribers to insurance exchanges (above and beyond those who had been previously insured and forced to change plans), plus millions of new Medicaid recipients.”
What’s this? Obamacare is starting to work after all? The hysterical horror and scare stories about it just didn’t all turn out to be true?
If this is failure, can you imagine what success would look like?
Can Noonan, Thiessen, Krauthammer and their ilk not see any of these perfectly obvious things?
Now we get to the really interesting point: No, they can’t.
Clinical insanity, preceded by cognitive dissonance, is a terrible thing. The Classical Greeks knew what they were talking about when they pointed out that those whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad.
The hatred of the old classical Ronald Reagan Right for this extremely cautious, responsible and moderate mainstream Democratic president is now so great that it has taken them far beyond the bounds of any mundane reality. Madness, generated by hatred is an awesome, evil and intensely dangerous thing. It is akin in its destructive potential to uncontrolled nuclear fission.
As these people finally melt down, be prepared for new noxious fumes of hate to sweep the country.
In the meantime, as the eminently sane and sensible Mr. Zogby concludes, recall the image of a now-veteran president still standing tall on his sixth State of the Union night.
All photos are screen shots from YouTube video of speech; this was first published on the Baltimore Post-Examiner.
Martin Sieff is a former senior foreign correspondent for The Washington Times and former Managing Editor, International Affairs for United Press International. Mr. Sieff is the author of “That Should Still Be Us: How Thomas Friedman’s Flat World Myths Are Keeping Us Flat on Our Backs” (Wiley 2012) and “The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Middle East” (Regnery, 2008). He has received three Pulitzer Prize nominations for international reporting.