How Obama Lost America

There are four explanations for the Democrats’ biggest problem heading into the midterms.

Comments: 213

  1. Mr. Obama has his flaws, but he also has character. Republicans, on the other hand, have character disorders. These have been evident since the day Mr. Obama was elected.

    Job one for them was to cause the country as much pain as possible, knowing that voters in pain vote for change. Intransigence was the method, but the motivation was disdain for all of the progressive gains that made the 20th century a period of growth and enlightenment.

    Civil rights were set back when Republicans, furious that a well-spoken black man now led the country, denied Mr. Obama's citizenship, his patriotism and his academic credentials. Now they're attacking voting rights, making it harder for poor minorities to vote.

    The Republican economic meltdown was used to justify counterproductive austerity measures. There were foreclosures, rampant unemployment and stagnant or falling wages, while taxes on the wealthy fell and C.E.O. compensation skyrocketed. The social safety net was attacked by pseudo-economist Paul Ryan. The richest country in the world could no longer afford to ensure retirement security or medical care for the people who built it. Republicans continue to claim that Obamacare somehow hurts people, while millions of once uninsured families now have medical coverage.

    This election will determine the political makeup of the Senate. But more importantly it will determine whether we ever deserved the rights and freedoms that Republicans are now trying to take away from us.

  2. Bravo, gemli, you've outdone yourself on this. Unfortunately, no president is immune from personal attacks. Romney's wealth was particularly rich material, exciting even the normally stoic Harry Reid to falsely proclaim that Romney hadn't paid taxes in 10 years.

    Every bit that Obama got, they gave.

    The one criticism that turned out to have been prescient was Obama's lack of executive experience. One might even call it a "disorder" so badly has it affected the functioning of his White House.

    Perhaps if he had just a little more character, he might put it to use figuring out how to master his job.

  3. The apparently successful strategy adopted by McConnell et al was to insure that nothing got done, then blame the President that nothing got done. There were plenty of good proposals, e.g., putting people back to work fixing all those faulty bridges and highways, but most went nowhere. I suppose people do get the government they deserve, especially those that can't see through this strategy.

  4. Executive experience is no guarantee of success.

    For proof of this, see GWB aka the guy AACNY voted for twice and almost destroyed the country.

  5. Partisan democrats furious over bombing in Iraq and Syria are about enough to explain the decline since 2012. That is why the foreign policy number is so low.

    Read the comments on the NYT on foreign reporting for pity's sake.


  6. Obama is a whimsical president.

    On a whim he gave an exception to employers, but not to individuals on healthcare.

    On a whim he ignored immigration and border-security laws.

    On a whim he re-imposed deep-water drilling moratorium when it was struck down in the courts.

    On a whim he had the IRS follow his guidelines to harass his political enemies like the Tea Party.

    On a whim he ignored the Constitution and appointed people when the Senate is "not in session."

    On a whim he decided his threat of Syria’s crossing a “red line” by using chemicals to kill his own people meant nothing. 200,000 dead Syrians so far.

    On a whim he pulled out our troops from Iraq causing ISIS to take over.

    Whimsical president he may be but he is no joke to Americans.

  7. What goes around... This time there's no one to use this against to the democrats' advantage the way Kerry did and Obama did against Hillary.

  8. In some ways, the criticism seems to be that we don't like what Bush did (invading Iraq) but we don't like what Obama did (not playing harder ball with Putin and Assad). If there is an assumption that there is a thing we can do that will make a large and positive difference, and we just haven't found it yet, maybe we should figure out to what extent that is really true. I don't think we can't make a difference, I just question whether the results will be immediate, large, and emotionally satisfying. Sometimes I think part of the problem is that we are looking for instant gratification, including in a search for the solution of centuries-old world problems.

  9. To follow your point, it makes me wonder if today's " go shopping" Americans would have the "sand" to grind out the defeat of Germany and japan, less than three years of concentrated effort. (The current "Forever War" is of a different sort, foughr by volunteers- to a large extent economic refugees- Guard units and mercenaries- barely an afterthought except when dredged up by the right to scare people for cynical political purposes).
    There is clearly still enough money sloshing around in the 99% - witness any shopping center parking lot filled with shiney behemoths and the rush for the latest shiney plastic geewgaw from China- I.e., dispite the trend the plutocrats haven't satiated completely their lust for it all.
    The other curiosity of the times is what is it that the owners envision after they've stolen social security through privatization,.tossed medicare destroyed labor, and finished off the.middle class. Maybe better to let the slide comlete the cycle and move to a new form of government as this seems hopelessly broken.

  10. I can't for the life of me understand the current mood, which if negative on the current Administration, is far worse regarding the GOP and Congress.

    Maybe its because there is no longer a center in tribal American politics. The centrist Obama Administration makes everyone unhappy. Dissatisfaction with the Affordable Care Act is equally as strong from those who think it didn't go far enough as those who think the opposite, leaving a minority in the middle. Opinion on foreign policy has a similar split among Americans, between too-much and too-little.

    It doesn't help of course that the media makes a lot of money amplifying the hot controversy of the day, ranging from Ebola to IRS and fueling a sense of government incompetence GOP Congressional Committees are happy to abet.

    We are fortunate that the President is less focused on polls than on issues that really matter to the country in the long run, like climate change, education, financial integrity, more foreign policy through economics than armies and in general, making incremental progress wherever possible through executive action.

    But lacking a center makes it more likely that we will repeat the disaster of 2000 by electing another incompetent ideologue for President.

  11. When you walk down the center of the road, you can get hit from both directions...

  12. Right on! The lack of moderation is so American. It goes beyond politics. It is ingrained in every aspect of our society...

  13. You just re-elected on the most political and incompentent president ever in Obama.....you know its bad when the 2nd worst ever Carter starts to citicize him...lol

  14. Obama did not lose America. We lost him when we handed Congress over to the Teapublicans in 2010.

    We also let the Senate Republicans get-away with abusing the filibuster rule a record number of times.

    As Gemli said in a comment to Frank Bruni's column: "The fault is not in our political stars but in ourselves".

    We are underlings. Et tu, America?

  15. The TEA Party arose from government's actions that alarmed millions of Americans. The fault lies with it.

    Blame yourself if you must, but keep us out of it.

  16. AACNY,
    The vast majority of Americans, including Tea Party people, oppose cutting Social Security, Medicare, and other programs that help working people. The Tea Party was funded by the Koch Brothers. The Kochs want to eliminate Social Security and Medicare. They want to abolish the minimum wage, usury laws, and public education. The agenda of the Koch Brothers is the opposite of what Tea Party people want.

  17. "The TEA Party arose from government's actions that alarmed millions of Americans"......I live in a part of the country where sometimes you have to drive long distances with a single conservative radio station. So I can say with a high degree of certainty that the formation of the Tea Party began before Obama took office. And whether you like it or not, what alarmed millions of Americans was the election of a Muslim President who was born in Kenya.

  18. Poor execution. Obama's supporters can find 101 reasons to justifiably fault republicans, but this is still the greatest problem with his presidency.

    And, no, comparing him to someone worse does not make him better. That just feels better.

  19. Seriously, your entire explanation is "poor execution"?

    We'll have to put that one up there in the vague criticism hall of fame with "his foreign policy is 'weak' ".

    How about you, you know, actually explain a complaint in detail, with an explanation of what you think should have been done instead, and how that alternative policy would have made life better for most Americans better.

    But based on the last decade, this seems to be an impossible task for conservatives.

  20. Poor execution? LOL!

    How can the president execute anything when the opposing party in Congress opposes every thing he attempts to execute?

    Good grief. ODS is strong with you.

  21. Not sure there IS someone worse to legitimately compare him to, although we've had a few presidents as ineffective. You can't execute if you're so confused by the contending advice that you can't define a way forward. Effective presidents don't benefit by being excessive processors: they benefit by good sense and a bottom to their convictions.

  22. Obama's a great President but I think we should change the presidency to one six year term. No second campaign, no second term blahs.

    I honestly don't think that Obama's heart is in it anymore and it saddens me. The other day I saw a speech in which he said that he was "frustrated." My reaction was "HE'S frustrated? He's president! If he's frustrated, what about me?"

    So why do I think that Obama is a great president? Look at consumer spending. My local mall's parking lot was PACKED last Saturday. The stock market. Gas prices lower than I remember in YEARS. Goodbye Bin Laden. Out of Iraq and Afghanistan. LGBT rights.

    Mr. President will be a great former President because his legacy will be set in stone. I just wish that he can get some of his mojo back. A Democratic big win on Tuesday can help. VOTE!

    And we absolutely have to have a strong leader next time. We don't want to hear about a President's "frustration." Save that one for the First Lady (or First Lad).

  23. I think you are right. By year 5 or 6 most people are sick of whomever is President. Those that dislike the President at election now hate him and many that supported him are now at least tired of him.
    I voted for Obama and approve of most of his policies but feel largely disappointed in both him and even more the Americans that spew hatred from the far right

  24. Obama has polled as worst President in 70 years. The majority does not have the same view that you do.

  25. How about these factual tidbits.

    1. millions less working today than the day he first took the oath.
    2. on top of that an additional 6 million americans have turned working age.....no jobs for them either.
    3. Minorities have suffered greatly under Obama with very high unemployment, foreclosures, more in poverty and so on.
    4. Doubled our debt.
    5. Stock market returned....but is has every single time in our history.....but he spent trillions on QE to do it.
    6. Only the very rich are benefiting....the poor and middle class are seeing income declines.....that never happened under Reagan or Bush.
    I could literally go on and on.......

  26. Well, Barack Obama is caught between extremist ideologies that have polarized the nation. It's difficult to please anyone.

    Reagan reeled-in the lunatic Right and Clinton reeled-in the lunatic Left and also dealt with the lunatic Right. But those two presidencies left behind more emboldened, extreme groups. It's a little like the Balkans.

    Barack Obama was elected in the bad climate of the Bush presidency. The GOP had failed so badly I had wondered if McCain should be president to force *them* to clean up the mess. But Palin was completely unacceptable. She was there for the Right Wing lunatics. So it was Obama who had to fix the mess from the previous eight years. Only the Left Wing lunatics thought he would fix it. They are now disillusioned.

    The reality is that we are *all* way better off today then we were six years ago but Barack Obama keeps getting hit on the chin by the lunatic Right and Left. ACA was not the national, single-payer system that it should have been because of the fear of Socialism; we are not out of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars because Bush and Cheney destabilized the Middle East. These make other kerfuffles seem larger such as Benghazi, Syria, Iran, the Veterans issue, the tax skirmish and the child border crossings.

    We're all paying dearly for the Bush-Cheney years. It's going to take a long time to fix the mess. Even a next Republican president will be dealing with the consequences of that legacy.

  27. Charles, you won't make it as a political analyst. (On second thoughts, maybe you will, since you fit right in there with the professional pundits and their conventional wisdom echo-chamber.

    My question to you is "what lunatic left?" If there ever was one in the United States, there certainly isn't now. What the punditry today sees as far left is not far out of line with the Republicanism of Eisenhower. The only disagreement across the entire political spectrum inside the beltway (apart from the Congressional Progressive Caucus, which is hardly ever reported on) appears to be on whether our social safety net should be dismantled aggressively or gently.

  28. There is no lunatic Left. There are moderate Liberals and Eisenhower Republicans now labeled as the lunatic fringe. Back in Ike's day there WAS no label for what now calls itself the GOP.

  29. The next republican president will be dealing with the consequences of Obamanomics. Oh wait , only Obama and Co. can cry ; it's Bush's fault year after year, as the middle class in America gets crushed.

    I guess that makes me a crazy , according to the bulk of posters here .

  30. I don't think it has much to do with an of these things. Such missteps as have occurred have been relatively minor. Seen objectively, Obama's record is pretty good, and history will judge him that way.

    No, what has happened is that Obama sat by passively while the Republicans set the agenda with their lies and attacks, never addressing the people in any serious way, never touting his successes or criticizing his opponents.

    Now the public still thinks that unemployment is at 10%, that Obamacare is a failure, and that the world is a mess, when things are actually tame by the usual standards.

    Obama won against Romney partly because the latter was a dreadful flip-flopping candidate -- it really doesn't help to call 47% of the country "takers," to hide your taxes, or to talk about "binders full of women" -- and because during the campaign, Obama actually bestirred himself to talk to the American people.

    It is also true that Obama, while generally decent, hasn't been anything like the champion of the people that we had hoped. So his poll numbers probably reflect disappointment on the part of those of us who had hoped he would take the side of the regular guy -- something that should not be interpreted as approval of the Republicans, but rather frustration that the Democratic Party has become the party of not as bad.

  31. "The party of not as bad" - a good description. Still, one does not have to bury themselves in newspapers, magazines, and Internet blogs to know what Republicans are about, yet we still are told that they are about to be highly successful in the coming elections. Isn't it time we face a ugly truth about what the United States has become?

  32. Obama has been on both sides of just about every issue...this is factual and easy to find.....how you don't know this is really amazing....wow.

    He has been wrong most of the time....unable to get it right on many occasions and is so full of himself that he still believes that he is the smartest person in any room that he enters.....clearly he is also wrong on that.

  33. You are correct. The low approval numbers reflect 100% of Republicans ,100% of so called Independents (who are nominal Republicans, ashamed to admit their affiliation) and a significant % of Liberals disaffected from the timidity of the President and his party.

  34. Ross, you make the mistake of imagining that everyone who is unhappy with Obama looks fondly towards the Republicans.

    But many of us are disappointed in how much he tried to compromise with the Republicans and failed to clearly define the contrast between Republican policies and those of Democrats.

    This lets the Republicans get away with obscuring the issues. Their election ads never say, "vote for me to keep down the minimum wage, raise the retirement age for Social Security, turn Medicare into a voucher system, allow insurance companies to deny you coverage due to pre=exisiting conditions and use over 25% of your premium dollar for profits not health care, keep the interest rates high for student loans, and to allow unlimited secret money to flow into our elections."

    But Obama has not called them out on this--if Republicans win in the midterm, it certainly won't be because the majority of voters favor their policies!

  35. 'if Republicans win in the midterm, it certainly won't be because the majority of voters favor their policies!'

    Now isn't that the truth?
    But how crazy do you have to be - to let Republicans win - because some 'Obama-dude' hasn't called out the Crazies'?

  36. The problem isn't that Obama didn't talk enough.....the problem is that much of what he said or promised was either a lie or just wrong....and people are starting to catch on.

  37. Lynn 's first idea is perfectly CORRECT! But, let's also admit to ourselves that just as Mr. Obama was NOT Bush, the GOPers benefiting from his situation now are just as fairly collecting points for being NOT Obama.

    Now, will this be the pattern for all American elections for the rest of this century? That nothing will be recalled by voters that is positive about THEIR guy, just negatives to recall about the opposition?

    These comment forums say Yes - note how little effort is made to push anybody UP here, just down.

  38. Shouldn't the question be more: 'How America lost IT'?

    Or in other words: 'Is there any type of 'President' - from now on -
    America won't lose'?

    Or in other words: How America Lost a reasonable and rational President.
    -(and could she win him back by exchanging the American people?)

  39. OR:
    'What does America want'?

    -(Sigmund Freunds last question on his deathbed!)

  40. Money.

  41. Democratic candidates are dragging around an anchor that " the game is rigged ", as documented here:

    http://www.nytimes.com/1997/11/20/opinion/in-america-the-game-is-rigged....

    and here:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/09/opinion/09rich.html

    and here:

    (see Elizabeth Warren link in addendum below)

    over 3 different decades in just the pages of the NYTimes.
    There are myriad other examples, but only 2 hyper-links are being allowed per post.

    POTUS was elected in hopes he could change things but GOP'ers obstructed from Day Zero, as detailed in Robert Draper's book " Do Not Ask What Good We Do: Inside the House of Representatives ".

    Our political system is set up so that people of good will must co-operate (even when they are out of power) or the minority party can gum up the works.

    GOP'ers have engaged in their obstruction every time they thought it would reflect badly on POTUS, then turned to shout ' gridlock ' at every opportunity, or otherwise foment discontent, same as they did in the Clinton years.

    In just the 8 years of Dubya, voters have not forgotten what GOPers' Clinton play-book looked like, but Democrats in 2014 are unfortunate they nevertheless have to defend 21 Senate seats in this mid-term while GOP'ers only have to defend 15 seats.

    In 2016, things will be pretty much flipped, with GOP'ers having to defend 24 seats and Dems only 10 - in a presidential election year :)

  42. Guess you are totally unaware of a thing called filibuster proof senate....why am I not surprised....this is amazing.

    No wonder the voters are turning away from the liberal agenda in such a big way...wow.

  43. Ach, those links are so discouraging.... The more things change, the more they stay the same. They also remind me how much I miss Bob Herbert and Frank Rich!

  44. Douthat is counting his chickens too soon for 2016.

    The Republicans have nothing to offer.

    The Democrats COULD offer things, even if now they don't really speak up.

    Americans are completely fed up with the lot of them. That is a big opening waiting for some enterprising new person.

  45. The dems have nothing to offer ordinary people. They are largely focused on their corporate masters and the vicious identity politics of the Hispanic lobby. And nothing else.

  46. Ross, the problems of a democracy invariably originate at its source.

    If a people can be routinely played for fools, as apparently can a substantial segment of the American electorate, then they're always going to have a government of knaves, crooks and adventurers.

    The President's approval ratings are down - yet they're still far higher than the crazies that the American people plan on empowering next Tuesday.

    The American people want change - but change needs to begin with them. For instance, they need to turn off the television and talk radio - and instead take a trip outside the country, to get some sense of how others live. Most Europeans would kill for our recovery - however imperfect it might be - and consider health care coverage a human right.

    They might also want to stop watching those blockbuster films, in which the CIA or military inevitably triumph by the final reel.

    The disorder we're seeing in the world today was set in motion by Bush's invasion of Iraq. The American people strongly supported his decision to invade - and now our chickens are coming home to roost. We loosed decades (if not centuries) of pent-up rage, and then threw the Geneva Convention out the window. We did that, no one else. And now we're upset when we see innocents tortured.

    Life is messy - and has always been so. And government is nothing more than a reflection of the people yearly elect it, comprise it, and all too often seek to corrupt it.

    The change we seek begins within.

  47. I never knew the extent to which Obama supporters will excuse his incompetence. Now that Douthat demolished the tired "it was the Republican Congress is at fault for everything" which can't be used to justify the keystone cop healthcare rollout, the Syrian redline screwup, the farcical "reset" with Putin, and the various other Obama foreign policy misadventures we now have a new scapegoat: America. Apparently, the country let Obama down and we should really do some soul-searching to see how we failed him. This would almost be funny if it weren't so sad.

  48. What an "interesting" world view! "It all started with Bush"! Nothing like the overthrow of the Shah of Iran under Carter, the bombing of our embassies and the Cole under Clinton, or even the founding of the state of Israel under Truman had the least thing to do with the current world situation. Then you probably believe that Chaney blew up the twin towers too!

  49. I agree that Americans would like to see everyone with access to affordable healthcare, but to say it is a basic human right is a bit naive. Having access to affordable healthcare also requires that there are people WORKING to provide it. Under your line of logic, it is also a right (or more of a requirement) that the people who do provide it have to WORK and provide it for free while getting nothing in return from the people who get it for free (which is implying that they haven't contributed to the economy because they have no money).

    I just don't get that mentality, and I don't think you do either most likely being somebody who has worked to get to where you are at. Some people should get stuff for free while other people should have to WORK to provide it? That makes no sense because the more people that have that mentality, the fewer goods and services there are to provide FREE. Each person has to contribute and we are ultimately exchanging our goods and services for each other goods and services, money just makes it happen quicker. And the government cannot print and borrow around this fundamental principle.

    Our country is prosperous because we worked to get to where we are at. It requires a lot of work and ingenuity to create the amount of products and services that our country has. ENOUGH TO GIVE A LOT OF IT OUT FOR FREE!

  50. What many voters haven't yet understood is that the GOP agenda, far from being primed to capitalize on the President's "failures," will actually give them less of what they're hoping for. If the middle class (or what remains of it) is anxious about job security, fair wages and good benefits do they really have any hope of attaining these things from the party of the plutocrats? That's like going to a casino and expecting to win big by putting your faith in Donald Trump. If the ACA has been a wash with respect to "winners" and "losers," why haven't we heard more about the latter? For the most part those who despise the law continue to dread the Republican-rumored consequences that have continued not to materialize. As for the President's "failed" foreign policy, what exactly is the GOP's counter-offer apart from All War All The Time? What we're now headed for is 2008 all over again.

  51. The fact is that Obama has lied too many times for the american people to stomach anymore......liberals know that but never thought people would actually care.

    Here is the question people are starting to answer....are they better off today 7 years after liberal dems have been in majority then they were under Bush after 6 years of repub majority control....very few people can answer yes to that......the rich clearly can.....and they are the only people benefiting from Obamas programs...QE..right.

  52. Can I quote you? My sentiments exactly!!

  53. Obama lost Americans, because two wars were ended, the deficit was cut in half, unemployment became significantly lower and the stock market is at record highs all under his watch. Americans don't like boredom.

  54. Actually, on THIS Planet Earth, Americans were shocked at the wild spending which had us accumulating daily debt increases of $4.1 Billion - AFTER he called President Bush ''treasonous'' for the spending increases in 2007 when Ms. Pelosi took the gavel in the House. But even her red ink deluge was HALF of Mr. Obama's.

    This stung in particularly because Mr. Obama never said the FIRST thing about his apparent decision to double the U.S. national debt BEFORE he was inaugurated - on about the 3rd try or so.

    And what American messes up the oath of office twice in a row?

    His doubling unemployment and then fatally fudging how those numbers were set up will be one of his gaping legacies.

  55. Obama lost Americans because 90 million people dropped out of the workforce, millions were forced out of health care they liked, he used the IRS as a political weapon (give him credit - even Nixon couldn't get them to do what Obama did), he added trillions to the deficit, willingly mislead us about Benghazi, flooded the country with millions of illiterate illegals, tossed hundreds of millions at failed green companies . . . Solyndra ring any bells? The list is virtually endless.

  56. There is still war in Afghanistan, Iraq is a disaster due to not following through the status of forces agreement negotiated by Bush, the deficit is still higher than any deficit under Bush, unemployment is down due to the lowest participation rate since Carter and the massive influx of part-time jobs (see U-6, not U-3) and the market is overpriced due to QE killing any interest income opportunities. The middle class is shafted from all of the socialist policies, therefore the income inequality has risen more in this administration than any other before it creating inequality discrepancies the highest since he 20's.

    That is how Obama lost America.

  57. As we all know, context matters. When it comes to this president, folks like to pretend that whatever is happening is unique to him. Here is some history:
    1938: Big losses for FDR in the U.S. House of Rep
    1950: Harry Truman suffers major losses six years into his presidency
    1994: Bill Clinton loses to the "Republican Revolution"
    2006: GW Bush and the GOP lose 30 seats and control of the House as Nancy Pelosi becomes speaker. Democrats capture the Senate as well.
    You were saying....?

  58. There are really two issues and one non issue. First, the macro economy has recovered but people don't understand the economy. They look at their own finances and for the bottom 80%, their wages still haven't moved since the Bush administration compared to the top 20%. Those in the 80% haven't seen either party help. Second, people look at entirely Republican states like Kansas and shake their heads. They don't like what they see there and don't want their state to end up like Kansas. Lastly, Obamacare is not an issue and has rarely been brought up in my deeply red state as a campaign issue (it ranks in the bottom 10). Even the reddest of the red here have resigned themselves to Obamacare or some form, just like McConnell has stated publicly.

  59. Sorry, Tom. I understand economics enough to know that I am in trouble as is every single person and family I know. And sorry, also, that people look at ILLINOIS, not Kansas and don't want their state to end up like that. Ditto Michigan dealing with Detroit. Ditto California dealing with its population moving to Texas and Colorado.
    The voters set to repudiate Obama's policies and execution have figured out that it is time, past time, for a change. Slogans are no longer enough to win a vote.

  60. I agree in part. No one wants to be Illinois either. However, very few people I know across a wide economic or political spectrum in our area or other parts of the country are in economic trouble. Every friend or family member in 6 different states (4 blue states, 2 red states) that was laid off during the recession is back at work. Your situation may be different.

  61. Douthat's Problem -- How to attack one of the most successful presidents since WWII, who has accomplished more domestically than any other president since LBJ, especially in healthcare. Well, one way is to tell an untruth, by claiming that there are as many losers under Obamacare as winners. Another is to ignore history and represent Obama's second term woes as unique, which they are aren't. Few presidents winning a second term sustain the level of popularity that brought them to office in the first place for a variety of reasons. All this is of little relevance to the remainder of the Obama presidency. He has already accomplished what he was able to do, which was considerable. Two years of a nonfunctioning Senate under the Republicans, rather than the Democrats, will make only a small difference politically for Obama. Besides, attention will quickly turn from bashing Obama to the 2016 election.
    Douthat's next problem is to figure out how to attack Clinton.

  62. The GOP already figured out how to attack Clinton. They are going to continue to paint everyone with the Obama brush. The Democrats need to stand up a defend the progress the Nation has made under President Obama. 10 million new jobs! The stagnant wage issue proves that the fat cats are sitting on their money and further proves the government must be involved in setting wages or the big wigs will not pay. Stagnant wages 100% falls on the Republicans and their donors.

  63. Easy. She's a toady for Wall Street. She visits them in their offices instead of the prison cells where many belong.

  64. The polls don't agree with you, but hold that thought until you loose on Tuesday.

  65. If the Democrats would develop a spine and stick up for what they stand for, instead of letting themselves be defined by people who are good at blaming the victim, they would do a whole lot better.

    Obama is not the villain in this piece. The moving goalposts of and steadfast opposition of power and wealth to the idea that they might assume some responsibility as well as reaping benefits has cleverly persuaded people to hurt themselves.

    Why not blame the victims. It's easy and it's cheap. But it is also wrong and evil.

  66. you hit it exactly right, there now is a false hope that if we give up the people with money will save the day, or non-politicals this will never happen, money though highly touted will never boost people's moral fabric.

  67. Do you actually read what you write? If so, you would delete it before you hit the submit button.

  68. Wish I could recommend your post many times over! I am deluged with requests for money to defeat the Republicans but NOTHING about what they actually want to accomlish. It's like Al Gore campaigning as if he'd never heard of Clinton--disgusting!

  69. Douthat conflates context with substance and confuses both, but that's the nature of horse-race-based political punditry. Since nothing in this piece convincing argues Obama's performance on the merits, pronouncements of his so-called failures being the cause of poll numbers is highly speculative, to say the least. The Obama administration has its problems, to be sure, but to reduce an analysis of the president's performance to a liberal vs. conservative popularity contest illuminates little.

  70. The question of this article is why Obama is down despite some good numbers. You missed that.

  71. When Barry was riding high in the polls, you were arguing just the opposite of what you argue now. QED.

  72. Obama's unpopularity is due mainly to the steady drumbeat of Republican propaganda. People who do not follow politics closely figure that where there is so much smoke there must be some fire. They cannot conceive that the Republican party has nothing except tax cuts and clever one-line slogans to offer.

    Now it is perhaps Obama's fault that he has not looked for new ways to counter this propaganda. But it is difficult to counter propaganda if a main point of the propaganda is that the other side should not be listened to except to figure out what nefarious schemes it is up to. An Obama propaganda offensive would give Republicans new opportunities to brand him as socialist and as an uppity person of color.

  73. If you think Obama's problems are simply a matter of propaganda, you are a child.

  74. Right on! And I am confounded that some of the worst Republican offenders have not been charged with sedition for their attempts to undermine the legally elected government. Not to mention members of Obama's own administration who have done the same with their published books.

  75. Your comment is utter drivel. In fact, your problem is that Democrat propaganda is threadbare and no longer persuades the uninformed.

    BTW, your and Barry's propaganda is just to disparage those who disagree with you and him. To argue that his propaganda machine can't be effective because the R's could counter it, is just circular nonsense.

  76. " It’s a problem of leadership that reflects badly on liberalism but doesn’t necessarily vindicate conservatism." NOBODY I know -- (and that's mostly liberal-minded people) isn't disappointed with Obama. He isn't a judgment on what we believe, he's a judgment on himself.

  77. Why isn't Obama a judgment on what you believe??? In fact, he is the incarnation of what you believe -- the problem is, what you believe just doesn't work and is as much a failure as he is. At least have the decency to admit your own failure and not distance yourself from your former savior.

  78. It's exceedingly rare that I agree with a Douthat column, but I agree with much of this one. A majority of Americans think that the country is going in the wrong direction and, rightly or wrongly, they blame President Obama.

    With middle-income Americans still in shaky economic times, with ISIS threatening the Middle East, and with Ebola on our shores there's plenty to worry about and the president is a convenient target.

    For my part, I think that Obama has handled ISIS cautiously but reasonably, feel that the Affordable Care Act has done more good than not (although I would have preferred a single payer program), and blame Republican intransigence on Republicans. My key complaint with the Obama Administration is that it bailed out Wall Street, but did a lackluster job for Main Street. Ordinary Americans are still feeling the fallout from 2008, although I agree that the economy is healing slowly.

    At the same time, it's easy to lay our troubles at the president's feet, and that impulse may bode well for the Republican Party on Tuesday. I'll be hoping, though, that sufficient voters see things my way to keep Democratic control of the Senate.

  79. I am sure your readers will propose a fifth reason for Obama's low poll numbers: that white people hate him because of his race.
    Two problems with that notion, though:
    1. Conservatives would fight any democrat who proposed the ACA, ignored the IRS targeting Tea Party NPO's, and stole GM bondholders' principal in order to reward Michigan UAW voters. President Biden or Clinton (Hill, nor Bill) would be equally disliked by the GOP.

    2. Obama, in both 2008 and 2012, received more Caucasian votes than Gore in 2000 or Kerry in 2004.

    But when you have nothing in your hand, the race card is always tempting to play...

  80. You left out a fifth factor, Mr Douthat.
    The Jimmy Carterisation of Obama. This is a media phenomenon and, believe it or not, admits of no party. One expects the right-wing media to despise Obama. What amazes, though does not surprise, is the eagerness of his supposed allies to kneecap him every chance they get.
    Part of this can be explained by Stephen Vincent Benet's observation about the American character: 'We like to raise a man to the highest level and then throw bricks at him.' Part of it may be a manifestation of what Richard Hofstadter terms anti-intellectualism in American life. The left hates brains as much as the right -'elitist' is its worst insult. Obama is smart and rarely passionate - President Spock.
    So basically they've done to him what they did to Jimmy Carter - everything he does must be wrong, or belittled, or second-guessed. Obama may take some comfort in knowing that, like Jimmy Carter, he will someday be admired as a president emeritus and a lot of people will say wistfully that they wish we had him back in the White House.

  81. Nothing President Obama has actually done remotely compare to past republicans.
    The VA shortcomings are not the secret bombing of Cambodia.
    The Secret Service fiascos are not Watergate.
    The PPACA website snafu's are not Iran Contra.
    Not attacking Syria is not invading, based on lies, Iraq.
    A slow response to ISIS is not allowing bin Laden to leisurely stroll out of Tora Bora.
    The Ebola response is not allowing New Orleans to drown.

  82. As a marketing guy, I am more likely to believe that the Republicans have been much better at making out things to be bleaker than they actually are, especially with regards to Obamacare and the economy. And, the GOP’s better marketing has been compounded by a very weak defense by the Democrats of exactly those two major presidential achievements. In fact, Democrats should have gone on offense about Obamacare and the economy, especially as the empirical data throughout 2014 confirmed that these were turning into winning issues.

    The only real issue on which Obama has had trouble across the board has been appearing weak and inconsistent in the foreign policy arena, but typically this does not matter as much in the midterms as it does in presidential elections. So we shouldn’t be too surprised if we find out next week that the midterm election results are much closer than what all the pundits have been forecasting. Especially, if the turnout is heavy, because then we might just witness 1998 all over again?

  83. As someone who has also worked in marketing I would say that is ridiculous. You say: "I am more likely to believe that the Republicans have been much better at making out things to be bleaker than they actually are." Things are pretty darn bad out here. That 6% unemployment rate is a mirage. The more significant stat is the labor force participation rate, and that is at an all time low.
    As for Obamacare it is easy to see now, in practice it does not achieve any of its aims. As the author states its creates as many losers as winners. It has not saved average American families $2,500 a year, people cannot keep their policies or their doctors. I think this is an ideological debate mostly.
    It is clearly not solving the problems. Those on the left say well it provides insurance to those who did not have it. On the right they can rightly claim for the money spent you could have provided a platinum plan on the free market and spent less money.
    All that being said you are absolutely correct on the fecklessness with regard to foreign policy. It is difficult or impossible to find the marketing opportunity in that one, unless you are a Republican of course.
    But one question. These candidates spend hundreds of thousands of dollars hiring marketing people to craft a message. Do you think is was coincidence that not a single one of them took your advice and campaigned on Obamacare and the economy? I want to give you more credit than that.

  84. "Do you think is was coincidence that not a single one of them took your advice and campaigned on Obamacare and the economy?"

    Yes, because they conflate Obama with Obamacare and the economy. Republicans have been very successful at demonizing Obama; so Democratic candidates don't want to be seen with him, especially in the South.

    But then Democrats won't even tout successful Obama policies because of said conflation – we keep hearing only how bad Obamacare has been from the Republican side without any counter from the Democrats? And so, the Republican perception prevails on both, Obamacare and the economy, but the empirical evidence is quite different.

  85. Quite frankly, I think the answers are much simpler.
    One: Mr Obama is a black man and that will not change no matter what.
    Two : Fox News. Or more appropriately named, "Political Propaganda"
    Three: The "First Team" is gone and we are now operating with the The Third string. It is not that complicated.

  86. Ross, presidential burnout is common during an incumbent's second term. The next presidential contest isn't until 2016 but right now it seems like it isn't to be held until 2116. The novelty of President Barack Obama has worn off and now America is speculating about who the 45th president is going to be. There's nothing really wrong with America except we have a bad case of Obama burn out. On your foreign policy list, Ross, you forgot to mention that American-Israeli relations are at their lowest point in decades.

    But cheer up Ross--I'm sure Obama can't wait for January 2017 either.

  87. President Obama has been a disaster (Ebola, ISIS, Obamacare) and this is why the Republicans are so far ahead in the polls. He has divided the country more than any other president in recent memory. He has the lowest ratings of any president (even President Bush who had become unpopular because of the Iraq War had higher ratings). People want change and that is why they are voting the Democrats out of office. Even Democratic candidates running do not want him campaigning with them. Tuesday night will be a wonderful victory for Republicans.

  88. Consider:
    Conservative media is almost in full control of what people see and hear and so they can make a scandal where none exists. The IRS "scandal", Solyndra "scandal", the Fast and Furious "scandal", the VA "scandal" just weren't.

    Heck, conservative media still flogs the New Black Panther Party "scandal" from the 2008 election!

    Conservative media is also responsible for the ACA being, as Douthat puts it, Obama's Iraq.

    Except that in Iraq we lost lives and spent trillions; the ACA saves lives and healthcare cost inflation is at the lowest level in 60 years, saving government programs money.

    It took Bush and the GOP Congress 6 years to tank the economy (remember, the housing bubble burst in 2006.) But Republicans are masters of political timing (Iraq war vote 3 weeks before 2002 midterms; ISIS war vote, uh, see us after midterms.) So the effects of the bubble bursting landed on Democrats in Congress first and then on the president.

    The idea that the voters would expect the president to right everything in just 2 years, and abandon him and the Democrats wholesale in 2010, can only come from mass political propaganda on a level not seen since between-the-wars Germany.

    The Democrats punted on 2014 around 4 months ago. They believe they can make back their loses in 2016 with Hillary at the top and many more GOP Senate seats in play.

    Democrats focusing only on non-gerrymandered elections will result in 2016 with a GOP president and a filibuster proof GOP senate.

  89. Obama and the Democrats seem to believe that if you get the policy right, the politics will follow. Of course, it doesn't. The marketplace is littered with great products that failed because they weren't sold properly. You have to keep selling. That's why auto manufacturers send you tons of sales info AFTER your purchase, reminding you of why you bought it and what a great decision you made, reducing buyers remorse and building brand loyalty. What Democrat politician can list Obama's achievements over the last 6 years? Apparently none, even though there are plenty of accomplishments to brag about. That tells me that most never had the courage of their convictions. As an aside, don't underestimate how much the press has turned on Obama due to his prosecution of leakers and press restrictions. As Chuck Todd infamously said when asked why the press didn't expose the GOP's lies about Obamacare, "That's not my job. It's Obama's job to sell it."

  90. Mr. Douthat:
    I don't agree that President Obama and America are on divergent paths. Given the president's problems with messaging--this in the face of considerable and identifiable accomplishments--the Republicans have taken the bit by virtue of the continuing discontent over Obamacare. The opposition jumped all over the frightful rollout problems; OK, rightly so. However, the success of the ACA, all things considered, has been met with a grudging acknowledgement that maybe, just maybe, the president got this right. When foreign policy comes into play, Americans have a teenager's attention span. President Obama does not beat his chest--G. W. Bush did that quite nicely, thanks, and embittered John McCain and his Sunday Brunch club members sewed the false seeds of presidential leadership gone awry. A lazy America bought it and didn't see an economy improving; that or didn't care. America has a short attention span. President Obama didn't lose America as much as America has failed to appreciate him. It's our collective loss.

  91. I wonder if our experience with the last three presidencies might foreshadow a renewed interest in an amendment to limit presidents to a single 6-year term? It may well be the hardest job on the face of the earth. Perhaps it's become too much to expect that one person can sustain the energy, success rate and their resilience in standing up to special interests over 8 years in office. And I would be very interested in seeing recent analyses about how to best position a 6-year term in relation to the terms in the House and Senate. At this point I believe it's worth considering again.

  92. Our problems lie not with limiting the term of a President. They lie with not limiting the terms of the Congress or/and the Supreme Court.

  93. Well Obama, to those who support him, has turned out to be a very thoughtful man, but one who has a dislike of action for its own sake and a problem in making his case on anything. The first is s good quality, but it makes him appear both timorous and indecisive. The second is a surprising and disappointing quality. As a candidate he was a very good speaker, as a president he seems both disengaged and a bad communicator. So am I disappointed it his presidency? Well I am sorry that he has turned out to lack certain, unpleasant, qualities that seem to lead to more successful presidencies. But ultimately I honestly believe history will be kinder to him than people think.

  94. Obama lost America mostly because the media threw the game. From refusing to use the the real name for the President's healthcare plan - the Affordable Care Act - insisting instead on calling it "Obama Care," to under-reporting on the Obama administration 's work on environmental issues, economic issues and financial reform, the media gurus have consistently picked at the President as if he were an ugly scab. The President hasn't helped his cause by appearing remote and aloof, but then he's had a lot of grim things on his plate

  95. I have always thought "Obamacare" was a badge of honor. He should get enormous credit for having passed the first (quasi)universal health care system in our history and it should bear his name. I have acquaintances who scorn Obamacare and say it will never work. I always ask what exactly is wrong with it; how is it broken. I have never heard a plausible response. The only specific negative I've heard is one I agree with, and it comes from the left: it isn't single-payer, universal health care. But it's a decent first step.

  96. I'm surprised, Ross, you're so objective about your number one reason: Republican intransigence. That was my biggest fear ever since his initial election, that the guy in the Oval Office would be blamed for the do-nothing Congress, caused squarely by the right and Mr. Boehner's cowardice in confronting the Tea Party.

    On #2: I'm annoyed so many Democratic candidates don't speak out on the slow economy. Over and over, we read here that the lack of jobs has more to do with business reluctance to hire, hoarding cash while continuing to squeeze efficiencies (read=workers!) out of their production cycle. All this does is create more unemployed--and fewer buyers of their products. Of course they don't care: today's CEOs don't have to expand, when profits increase due to inversions and other clever tax-evasion schemes.

    #3: please don't associate the ACA with the Iraq War... ever. The two aren't at all equivalent--an unpopular initiative to increase healthcare access for uninsured Americans, the other was a manipulative war based on lies that cost many Americans lives.

    #4, foreign policy and competence: I give you your due. I have grown to be quite annoyed with this President for his ambivalence and detachment. Surely, his right hand needs to know what the left is doing, and to claim he can't be everywhere at once, may be true but isn't particularly comforting.

    So, if the right gains power as many predict, let's see how they do. I actually suspect, not half as well.

  97. Ross, these are good and possible hypothesis. I would add a fifth: Democrats lack a progressive well communicated plan and thus are not able to articulate the progress that was made over the last 6 years. As such they react defensively against accusations from the right. Is that an Obama leadership problem? I think to an extent. But it was in the making since decades.

  98. I fail to see how Obama's low 40s approval ratings should be described as an "anchor" and a big problem for the Democrats, when Congress' approval ratings is in the low teens - which everyone knows is due to the Republicans and Republican obstructionism.

  99. John. You failed to add Harry Reid to the equation which nobody has mentioned. Another failed leader

  100. The real reasons. First, you and your ilk wouldn't give him a chance, and quickly blamed him for everything, and threw tons of money at the media to trumpet your message. The economy is improving, ACA is working, and he's doing the best he can with a tough international set of crises. But you get in his way at every opportunity. Second, the man lacks the spine to call you on your behavior, and therefore no good rebuttal is forthcoming.

  101. All that Obama should have done is communicated more clearly & forcefully why he has made the decisions he has. And he should have closed Guantamo by or explained why not.

    The willful ignorance (re science, rights, etc.) and the unstinting opposition of the Republicans, serving their plutocratic patrons, accounts for the public's frustration with gridlock.

    But still Obama has managed to get some good things done.

    Those who think things were better under Bush II/Bush Lite or would have been better under Romney can't say why in any credible detail, nor do the GOP & their moneybags say precisely what Obama should have done differently.

  102. As an Obama Independant, I find this article helpful explaining why a Predient I am so proud of is so unpopular. I believe the issue of income inequality with rural whites seeing the greatest impact weighs heavily

  103. A political agenda based on forcing things down people's throats is going to be a loser regardless of which party pursues it. The word "politic" once meant being able to deal with people and seek agreement but that has been lost in a drive to "win" regardless of who we hurt. Politicians once operated on the premise that they should make friends and avoid making enemies at all costs but that has been replaced with the "Tyranny of the majority" approach that says 51% support is enough to impose anything regardless of how the other 49% feel about it. Revolutions result from that kind of behavior.

  104. I voted for him when I thought he was a liberal democrat. He lost my vote when he started governing like a moderate republican.

  105. Where did you ever come up with the term "moderate Republican"? There is no such person. If you do not believe me, just bring up one of these three subjects, or all three for that matter, to ANY Republican and listen to the response: abortion, gun control, homosexuality.

  106. With wholesale conservative republic malignant narcissism, chronic scapegoating, grab gabbing, bigotry, racism, perversity of inequality rights only of there kind, 90% of the people in this misled / gullible nation, who have no confidence in the self interest, self righteousness.This nation ideologically divided, polarized and on a fast track of self destruction from within. The fundamentally flawed economic system having caught up. 90% plus conservative republicans having no stomach for a black man as the president and their one and only agenda being to oust the President at any cost, The US Supreme Court dominated by five conservative republicans, who issue absurd decisions that corporations are people, it is more like that America has lost Obama. Notwithstanding that the two of the three branches of the the government, the haves and politicians careless about the needs of this nation / the people. Plus racism and bigotry is a way of life in this wasteful, decadent nation with all the wrong priorities. It is correct to state that America has lost itself.

  107. Obama has simply no shown conviction in his own accomplishment. He has been too defensive and has not gone aggressively out in the country to defend himself. It is true that the democrats running in Redstates don't want him to canvass for them. But he has such a big bull pulpit, he could have done it in many places. To be successful you do need the stance and the mannerism of a warrior we is fighting for the people and calming out those who don't on the other side. People simply don't respect a cerebral leader.

  108. " People simply don't respect a cerebral leader." Intelligence and common sense apparently don't excite the 24/7 news media. People devour the constant stream of misinformation because they are deluded by the "Fair and Balanced" image of that widely viewed news channel.

  109. There is a fifth explanation which explains some of the other four.

    The ACA is actually a great success, All the data shows that. It could have been an even larger success if it weren't for the Supreme Court and various ideological Republican governors. All the polls show large majorities in favor of most of the main features of the law even among people who oppose it.

    The economy has actually improved quite a bit under Obama. It could have improved a lot more if the Republicans had not been so intransigent and Obama had been more forceful, but compared to Bush II, Obama has been blindingly successful in managing the economy.

    As far as foreign policy and competence, Obama has at the very least been way better them our recent Republican presidents. 200 Marines were slaughtered in Lebanon under Reagan; nothing Obama has done approaches the Iraq War.

    Why then do people disapprove of Obama? The answer is simple. Billions of dollars have been spent to hire quite clever propagandists to lie and misrepresent the facts. The Times abounds with examples. Here is a recent one http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/31/us/politics/pr-executives-western-ener...

    You can fool some of the people all of the time. You can fool all of the people some of the time, but in politics all you have to do is to fool most of the people at election time.

  110. My question is, why haven't the Democrats pushed back against the Republican lies? Obama's record of successes should be trumpeted. It mystifies me.

  111. Your explanation reminds me of the coach of a losing sports team complaining that his team gets a negative fan reaction because of all the negative reporting. Well, uh, no. If you play bad, you get booed, and the media report about both the bad playing and the booing. For team Obama that means stop believng that you are doing everything right and that negative public sentiment is just due to the Koch brothers. Obama must change his game plan. And for liberal commentators it means stop declaring American democracy dead on account of an electorate incpapble of making proper choices. All this talk of fooling most of the people at election time is nothing more than a call to abolish democarcy and install some kind of "controlled election" in which a board of election education governors decides what information is provided to the unwitting voters before they may cast a ballot. Or why not install outright dictatorship in view of your conviction that most voters are simply too stupid to be trusted?

  112. Congrats on the "Pick", Len: well-deserved.

    But a President of the United States doesn't get to mewl and seek to excuse a six-year period of failure to accomplish anything meaningful but for a healthcare program that only 38% of the people approve of. That's not 38% of the governors, Len, that's 38% of the people. What millions have given up in one of the most poorly-planned-and-executed redistributive boondoggles in our history demands the question: we couldn't come up with a better means of addressing the needs of 20% of our people without messing up the lives of the other 80%?

    And with all the attention on ObamaCare, we remain distracted from the REAL problem, on which the ACA is a mere carbuncle disfiguring its backside: the ENTIRETY of our creaky, dysfunctional and bankrupting healthcare kluge of systems.

    You can fool voters at election time, but they've had years now to dispassionately consider this president and his lack of performance in their real interests ... and they're not impressed.

  113. Mr. Obama is not a leader. This is why people have woken up to the fact he cannot provide leadership because he prefers to vote "present," go to fundraisers (where there are teleprompters and gushing crowds who love him), and golf. This has nothing to do with W, or the Republicans in Congress, or any other excuse. It has been heartening, though, over the last year to see Democrats admit that Obama - the smartest guy in the room, mind you - is not a leader and should not be the executive of our nation. I only regret that we have more than two years of Mr. Obama to deal with.

  114. For me, and I believe many others, It's his failure to rein in our intelligence agencies.

  115. Any Democrat starts with a significant opposition based on the non-negotiable issues of abortion, guns, anti-governmentalism, religion, and race. I calculate this as a 40 to 45 percent disapproval rating from day one.

    So, Obama did not have any margin to give. The Wall Street recovery helped his sworn enemies; the Main Street depression hurt those who might have been his supporters.

    Perhaps we should change and allow for only one presidential term.

  116. As a long time armchair political observer, it must be noted that the main reason Romney lost was that he was a bad candidate that kept sticking his foot in his mouth at, it seems, fairly regular intervals. Certainly the 47% was his crowning anti-acheivement, but his assertion, or attempt to make him seem like a 'regular Joe,' because he knew some NASCAR owners, were all too typical.
    On the Demo side of the aisle, Walter Mondale in 1984 and Michael Dukakis in 1988 were really bad candidates. No one could have defeated 'saint' Ronnie in 1984, but Dukakis could have defeated 'Father Bush' in 1988. The point is, a party needs to have good candidates.

  117. The Republicans have been determined to bring down Obama at any cost, even if it brings all of us down with him. Just to remind you, the day Obama was inaugurated, House members Eric Cantor, Paul Ryan, Hensarling, Hoekstra, Lungren, McCarthy, and Sessions and Senate members Coburn, Corker, DeMint, Ensign and Kyl had a secret dinner along with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Republican strategist Frank Luntz. Their brilliant idea was to make Obama a one term president and block him at every possible point.

    As a result we had Republicans in lock step: we had a government shut down, we had a failed grand bargain, we had a failure to pass any type of gun control after the Sandy Hook massacre, even though a majority of Americans supported background checks, we had a failure to pass any type of infrastructure spending, we had a failure to expand healthcare coverage to red states, but we had over 50 votes to repeal healthcare, a total waste of time and money.

    And we do have a massive push from Republicans to suppress voting, with over 600,000 people probably being disenfranchised in Texas and 50,000 voter's registrations mysteriously disappearing (just 2 examples).

    I'll take Obama's foreign policy over W's and Cheney's any day. I'll take Obama's healthcare execution over W's Medicare expansion any day.

    Obama is for fixing our infrastructure, he's for raising the minimum wage, he's for background checks for guns, he's for immigration reform.

    You've lost America, Ross.

  118. Bravo, V......let me say it once again, now two days before the election:

    With apologies to Cato the Elder, “GOP delenda est.”

    Cato stood in the Roman Senate and said this about Carthage every day for 20 years, until it came to pass, and I will say it every day here in the pages of The Times until it comes to pass.

    The time to overthrow the Republican obstructionist tyranny that is killing our states and our country is NOW. We cannot wait until the redistricting of 2020 following the next census. The answer now is to work every day in every state to register Democratic voters, even and most especially where the voting laws are being rigged to suppress them, and then to get all Democrats to the polls every election day. Registration should be on-going, NOW.

    As our problems are caused by manipulations of voting, so is our solution possible only through voting. The power of GOP gerrymandering is not limitless, and there are enough unregistered or disaffected potential voters in most voting districts to overcome any gerrymandering scheme. In that way, and no other, lies the salvation of the country. This must be the primary mission of the Democratic Party, and of all thinking Americans, male and female, in every state.

    Are we listening?

  119. I'm surprised Mr. Obama has the energy to get up and face another day. Underneath that cool detached exterior must be someone seething with rage. Wouldn't you be if your very persona were attacked for 6 straight years? Your birth certificate questioned, your mistakes vilified to the extent you're accused of treason, the threat of impeachment facing you in your last 2 years? Racial inuendo and slurs hurled nonstop by sitting Congress members as well as rednecks? And for what? Trying to do something for this country.

    The President looks tired. He is tired. His entire presidency has been questioned and opposed for the simple reason of the color of his skin. There I said it: if Mr. Obama were white he would have only had to endure the rough and tumble of normal politics.

    The President's groundbreaking achievement--the nation's first African American president--has been the very undoing of his presidency.

  120. Even with reasonable pace of economic recovery, not so disastrous a foreign policy record as under the Bush presidency, and public health care concerns symbolised by the Affordable Care Act if some conservative ideologues and partisan journalists want to garner votes for the Republican party in midterm poll only through Obama bashing, the familiar Republican tool ( though badly blunted now) what's anything new by way of positive alternatives that the GOP and its supporters do think to wield as an election winning trump card with them that the voters would easily be hoodwinked? Are the voters not already fed up with this Republican negativity and the Obama directed personal attacks?

  121. Piffle.

    In our system, the Constitution provides the Congress with more power than the President. When the opposition has operative control of the Congress and decides to do nothing, supported by a coordinated traditional and social media campaign (a.k.a. propaganda), our system fails.

    This is the design of those who wanted neither ''hope'' nor ''change'', as they are the chief beneficiaries of a philosophy that granted them tax cuts, lavish subsidies and lax regulations. Conveniently, the Supreme Court has given them the power to flood the game with dark money and keep things just as they are.

    For them, what could be a better way to thwart a President elected twice with popular majorities and electoral landslides?

  122. easy to see how unsatisfied we are but you like all the rest still can't point to what republicans will actually do to make it any better. so while i suspect Rs will win this election that still have no answer for governing. so wait another few years and the tide shifts again to the have no answer Ds

    throughout it all most media and wannabe journalists focus on the race not the outcome: the policy options offered. republicans have run against someone not on the ballot and you have covered that instead of the specific alternatives that have failed to share. those elected are part of the problem the media is the rest.

  123. Republican intransigence, OK, but that only accounts for Republicans, whereas practically no 2014 Democratic candidates want him near them. Suggests that quite a few Democrats must be among those who've lost faith.

  124. You forgot the most important one: The success of the Republican Party in drawing out every ugly impulse, every base thought, every nasty bit of closed-mindedness that it was possible to mine, and turn it against a black guy inclined by his nature to turn the other cheek. I'm only disappointed in Obama for having taken it.

  125. He never recuperated from the healthcare computer meltdown. and "If you like your plan you can keep it." The buck stops right at his desk for both. Why would he keep saying the latter without the necessary qualifications, when it was obviously incorrect? Why would he not personally want to try out the system before it went public? It is not enough to have second and third hand assurances. Sitting down for 30 minutes in front of a computer screen would have been educational and good stewardship. Just curiosity even.

  126. How did the president loose America?

    Number One: Scaring the heck out of the folks who are unbelievably prosperous. The notion that the playing field that is tipping their way might suddenly become more level was more than they could bear. (Even though he himself has raised huge amounts of money, the well he's been drilling isn't as deep because of the disparity in resources between the super rich & everyone else.)

    Also, he never made the connection with white folks outside of the cities. Maybe he never really tried -- and if he had, it might not have worked . (It's unfortunate.)

    And yes, the times he seemed asleep at the switch or indecisive haven't helped (though maybe history will think more kindly of him on Syria, Iraq, Ukraine, etc. or maybe not).

  127. Obama's problem is that he's too smart for the average American

  128. If only the average American were smarter than the average bear, we'd have brought in responsible persons into the Senate & House. Instead, we end up with characters not even worthy of the cartoons. Ted Cruz, Ms Bachmann and others like them come to mind quite readily.

  129. Put aside for a moment how wrong you are in every particular- I find it extraordinary that you do not mention the Republician stated purpose of denying Obama a "victor", meaning legislation that would help Americans. Equally remarkable is that you entirely omit racism. You don't think racism plays a role in the drum beat of Fox, the Tea Party, and many Republicians? Really? Open your eyes, or wake up, get a strong cup of java - The disgrace in the U.S. is precisely the racisism and greed of a portion of the population who, alas, has the means to parade their warped views and drown out the responsible ones who see President Obama for who he is - a truly smart man, who tried, best as he could to withstand this lyching of the right. Yes, he made mistakes, he may not move as quickly as some wouild like, but he does it thoughtfully, with an eye for justice and always honorably.

  130. I'll simply agree with gemli's comments. Further than that, I can do no more than join the chorus of NY Times readers who wonder why the editors continue to carry Ross Douthat. Since I can't "block" him like a pest-like emailer, I will now just refuse to read him. Unlike what Douthat tries to say here, it's very clear that Obama is unpopular primarily because his conservative opponents - including those who have spent hundreds of millions in ads tearing him (and his programs, especially the now-successful Obamacare) down during the past two years - have incessantly railed against anything and everything Obama. The clear and pathetic sub-text of the coordinated message of this massive cadre of detractors is, and always has been, that Obama is the
    "other," the dark lord (read African-American/minority), not like us, uppity. THAT incessant drumbeat is why he's unpopular. It has little to do with what he's done or tried to do.

    And, by the way, I'm a WASP.

  131. Oh please. If Obama were white, his approval rating - buoyed by nearly 90% approval by 12% of the country - would be in the mid-30s.

    Tell me which of the following are objectively successful:

    Foreign Policy
    The Economy for 90% of the country
    The ACA
    The management of various scandals: the IRS, ISIS, Ebola or the V.A.
    The effect of the stimulus on the economy

    Oh, and by the way, I am a certified 1% whose net worth has tripled since 2009.

  132. Hopes for our first black president were too insistent to give up, which was really why he eked out his 2012 re-election victory: we didn't want to admit that a presidency this historic ... could fail. I don't believe it failed entirely: he represents not an expunging of our history but a statement that, if we hadn't completely put that history behind us, we were ready to make a serious start. That will have value always.

    But he lost America because his are the wrong skills to be an effective president, and we have suffered because of this. He is altogether too detached: he would make a superb U.S. Supreme Court justice, because detachment and cerebral weighing of all sides of an issue are the perfect job requirements for that posting ... even if we don't always get them. He's not a natural executive of any stripe. He has dithered, delayed, refused to act, because he can't chart a confident path between all the contending interests and belief systems that vie for his attention and seek to sway him. He's merely an excellent processor in a world with too much data to come to firm conclusions. The man has no real bottom.

    Then, he has nothing of the natural politician's ease with people, willingness to compromise and ability to LEAD. We make constant excuses for his failure to do this. A president doesn't get excuses.

    The fifth explanation for why Barack Obama, this good man, lost America is that he was the worst kind of man for the job; and the people finally realized it.

  133. Yes, a good and intelligent man but not the right man, even the worst type for this important job, saved only by stereotypes of even worse characters.

    One wonders whether all future presidents will preside right alongside his/her predecessor the way Obama has. Will "He's/She's not so-and-so" become the basis for future evaluations or is it just necessary now when searching for something positive and meaningful in his presidency?

    If only the cleverness of his campaign, run largely against Hillary versus Romney, extended to his actual presidency. Once his campaign team and Congressional majority abandoned him, we were left with the real Obama.

  134. Actually, some of us Clinton supporters realized Obama wasn't the man for the job back in 2008. That said, given our low expectations, Obama has done quite well, especially taking into account Congressional Republican resistance to anything and everything Obama has proposed.

  135. Richard,

    I could list Obama's accomplishments (no new wars, affordable healthcare for millions, over ten million jobs created, under 6% unemployment, etc. etc.), but I'll just explain one of your stupid statements instead of explaining those in depth.

    You suggest he was reelected because Americans didn't want to give up on the idea of a black president. Let me paint a more realistic picture for you Richard.

    President Obama, through the lenses of anyone other than a hateful bigoted Tea Party member, is a smart, thoughtful man, who in the face of utter obstructionism, and of often blatant hatred, managed to get a lot done.

    Republicans, after literally deciding the night of his inauguration to do nothing, succeeded for the most part for four years. Then, because there is no one left in the republican party with ideas, they nominated Mitt Romney.

    Believe it or not, Mitt Romney lost because of Mitt Romney. Mitt Romney probably would have lost to a cardboard cutout, considering that cardboard cutout would have had more life. Do you really think anyone wanted Romney, the man who ties dogs to the top of the car even as they void their bowels over the windows on the highway? Do you think they wanted the man who explains to the poorest of Detroit the evils of the estate tax and humors with stories of his wives multiple Cadillacs?

    Do you think they wanted the man whose business plan for making a 1/2 billion was the following?

    1) Get bags of cash from questionable South American sources
    2) Use said bags to extort companies into gaining controlling interest
    3) Use said interest to make them take on unmanageable debt
    4) Gut company
    5) Suck loans out
    6) Cast corpse adrift

  136. Although any President or administration, being human, does some things better than others, at least we should acknowledge that the White House does not micromanage the US government. For example, the ACA website was not built by government workers but by private companies that the government hired and trusted. I don't believe that the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital that mishandled the Ebola case is run by the CDC. Let's keep clear what is actually run by the government versus what is paid for by the government but done by private enterprise.

  137. Has Obama LOST America? - I don't think, he ever gained it. Sure, he prevailed as president. However, in the aftermath, he lost track of his mission from onset on. Or to put it in a different way, Obama allowed the day - to- day reality of his office to dispense his intentions as leader in the post - Bush era.
    In my book, no U.S. president will never find himself in the position of a true major manager of his nation. Rather, his leeway of implementing true politics for the benefit of the American People is minimal, only. The countries true dominators are the lobbysts that is the powerful with the economic potential of calling the shots irrespective of the voters decision. That's the curse of the American political system.
    Obama could, however, do his country a huge favor by admitting that in all frankness. By so doing, he would trigger a nose- to - nose confrontation with those pulling the strings of power. How would that dramatic show down end up? A U. S. President leaving the script of his office would be tremendous provocation to all traditional.
    A general rebooting of political powers in the U. S. is long overdue. Edward Snowden as rebel made a crucial step to rock the boat. Others are to follow him in his footsteps. America deserves rejuvenation.

  138. Ross, what you did not mention is EDUCATION, STUPID!
    ========================================
    The largely unpopular COMMON CORE is dragging the President down. Maybe if he had expressed reservations about the standardized testing, his popularity might have risen. Maybe, if he had dumped Education Secretary Arne Duncan, his approval might have improved. Instead, he did nothing to increase confidence in education.

    Perhaps. after the election, Obama will wake up and become an EDUCATION PRESIDENT. Time will tell.

    www.SavingSchools.org

  139. Obama is probably not very relevant to the changes that are confronting large numbers of Americans today and making them anxious. Their standards of living are stagnating; for many their dominant ethnic status is eroding; and the ability of the US to control events abroad seems to be diminishing. One could debate to what extent Obama is responsible for any of this. The fact of the matter is that the president has done quite a good job of guiding the nation through the lesser depression, a continuing period of international terrorism, and a move toward sensible health care for all. But despite that, many Americans feel anxious about the future and are increasingly and perhaps unfairly blaming Obama for their insecurities.

  140. There's a lot of economic pain out there which is not going to go away no matter what happens.

    Globalization and technology have made the unskilled workers superfluous.

    It's a whole new economic paradigm where those who used to get by with their sweat are permanently reduced to minimum wage outlooks.

    Inequality is only going to get worse !

  141. Propaganda. How about that? Seems to account for the majority of the problem.

  142. I agree basically with your final tally, Mr. Douthat. Yet I would also like to present some impressions you don't mention, and which have marred
    my present portrait of Mr. Obama.
    I have had several Pages on Twitter running coincidentally alongside Mr. Obama's presidencies right from trhe start. In all these Pages, I openly deplored and opposed all GOP plans and activities, while lauding highly any and all of Mr. Obama's moves, and justifying any lack of them.
    I am retired, and have to make do with an SSA check monthly which does not surmount the 1K mark. To live in modern Miami with that kind of money is a survivalist miracle all in itself. And there are many in my neighborhood who have to take up the trial.
    At a certain point in the present Democratic campaign, I started to receive emails asking me to contribute. I did, once or twice. But then,
    the requests for donations became an unbearable deluge.
    As I was busy with my Twiiter Pages, my email count was high ; sometimes 600 emails a day ( in order to supply updated and actualized data to my followers. ) Got to a point where, out of the total received, donation-oriented emails from the Dems made up half. I complained there was no way I could partipate in the campaign based
    on dollar value. The administration critized me openly for that, and even became aggressive on the topic. They are still today badgering me in the same way and number.
    That fact then, decided me vs. Mr. Obama.
    Thank you,
    Joe Gonzalez

  143. Ross, nothing new in what comes out in your words. Please get a little bit more imaginative. Just as the intransigence 'of the current Republicans' and the scary Tea Partyer's is Obama's fault now the failure to regain seats in the Senate, House and States will be another nail on his coffin. No,not because of him but because we have a death wish. We are unable to see the forest from the trees. The Republicans have ascertained that their victory is inevitable by gerrymeandering and the Courts have aligned with them. The weirdest, nonsensical, lacking common sense, pretzel-like rulings have come out of this Supreme Court. And the most important, the wimpy Democrats up for election have distanced themselves from their President from their own Party. Shame on them,shame on us. We can look forward to another two years of inaction and Government Shutdowns. Masochists that we are we can enjoy this perverted pain.

  144. Obama is "frustrated". If I were him, I'd be incensed, outrage and livid, but that's politics these days.
    The only shot the Dems have, and it's beyond a long shot, it's a hail Mary, is a Warren/Biden ticket, and it will have to be more of a partnership than we've ever seen before. She will need him to get up to speed on the realities of the office, something Mr. Obama couldn't fully get a handle on for various reasons, many not his fault. If they pick Ms. Clinton, the GOP will think it's a major holiday party and she's the piñata. She may be more resilient and have deeper political chops, but they will try to do to her what the tried, and largely did, to Obama, and then some. In any case, the money, lies, libel, slander and defamation will flow as never before.
    My take on this essay is that it's largely wishful thinking. I don't believe most who voted for Obama see things as Douthat describes. There are elements of it for sure, and the media isn't helping, but I think it's better than he wishes it was. The public's confidence is always reflected in a president's approval ratings, but that doesn't make things his fault. I blame the GOP as much or more, lots more, for the mess we're in. I think much of the country does as well.

  145. How about a column entitled: "How the Roberts 5, Corporate Money and Fox Noise STOLE America"?
    When you have the House controlled by Republicans who are totally bought, and caring not a whit about what happens to the middle class and the poor, and a "leader" who vowed to sink the President before he was even inaugurated, how could he be expected to succeed, Ross Douthat?

  146. Nah! Fox Noise did not steal America. They do not possess enough smarts to do that. And, that is a direct insult to all the thieves in America......

  147. Another article that says nothing. President Obama is not perfect but history will prove how effective he really was in changing the social construct in a positive way and how intransigence was rewarded by a corporatist media that allowed fallacies to metastasize in low information voters.

  148. Harry Truman battled the political polls at the time, yet historians generally consider him one of America's best presidents.

    Your 4 explanations miss the big red elephant in the room: unprecedented sums of money spent by shadowy pacs backed by billionaires to persuade the uniformed masses that all is terrible, facts notwithstanding.

    By many measures, including payroll growth, unfilled job opportunities and monthly corporate layoffs, the job market is better than its been since the 90s.

    Corporate profits and stock market indices are at record levels. Corporate debt relative to earnings is at the lowest level in 24 years. The annual budget deficit as a % of GDP has fallen by 2/3rd to 2.8%, a ratio not seen since 2002.

    He did what 5 presidents before him attempted to do, expanded health care coverage to millions of uncovered families.

    He has kept the country safe. He wasn't elected King of the World, he isn't responsible for every sectarian skirmish and civil war around the world. He had the good sense to keep us out of all the battles old senators want to fight. When he does commit military force it is with international cooperation.

    He saved the banking system, the auto industry, averted a depression. Consumer Confidence jumped to a 7 year high last month.

    He maximized the impact of marriage equality. He stopped torture.

    He didn't lose America. He was the first president since Eisenhower to win election twice by more than 51%.

    History will remember him well.

  149. If things are so good, why does the liberal media insist they are so bad?

  150. I'd like to add that history will remember the Republican /tea party as one of the most deliberately destructive congresses in the history of the United States. Their lies, misinformation and pure stupidity have dragged our nation down in ways that may not be recoverable. The world laughs.

  151. One of your most biased columns. Direct your ire for the nation's paralysis where it belongs, on the Republicans. They have offered the nation nothing, whereas the Democrats and Obama have offered, and established solutions to at least some of our problems. I challenge you to cite one significant proposal from the Republicans that would have been a benefit to the nation at large.

  152. Obama actually SUCCEEDED in Syria, getting Assad to relinquish his chemical weapons WITHOUT US military action. That's a good thing. Except, of course, that Assad is still there and now we are working with him to contain ISIS. Ho! the irony!
    ... but back to these four theories ...

    A fifth theory, Ross, is that Obama has disappointed his Liberal constituency far too many times. Liberals voted for "change" in 2008, expecting then-progressive Obama would reign in Wall St. after it wrecked our economy. Liberals continued hoping in 2012, even though not a single bankster has been indicted, let alone convicted. Instead, the redistribution of wealth to the wealthy has accelerated. Trillions of dollars are sequestered, tax-free, overseas, and Obama does nothing more than wring his hands.

    Liberals are tired of supporting conservative Democrats who depend on the same campaign finance largess as the Republicans. Without their support, Obama's numbers fall under pressure of Republican FauxNews propaganda; there are few who are willing to defend the Disappointer-In-Chief.

  153. obama has not lost america, but america has lost its mind. 1 non-american dies of ebola in our country, and the mobs are screaming about the president's response. meanwhile, millions of americans now have health insurance, millions of people still have retirement savings, which looked very much in doubt in 2008, millions of jobs have been created, and billions have been shaved from the deficit. but this is all as nothing compared to one ebola death and two isis beheadings.

  154. Correct in many ways but my problem with the President was he was supposed to be against foreign wars but he expanded them and created new secret drone campaigns that the government denies. He was supposed to close but did not close Guantánamo prison where prisoners have not been charged, many over 10 years, and now are horribly force fed. Believed he was gonna prosecute the Bush team for Iraq and did not and openly praised them. Did not stop the Patriot act and actually strengthened it and of course did not to stop NSA. Proves to me that both parties are basically the same and only ones that matter are the campaign donors.

  155. Billions have been shaved from the deficit ? The national debt increased 17 trillion under the Obama regime, The Fed is 5 trillion in the hole.

    Obama has simply managed to band aid the sick US economy, which will soon fall apart again - -he is simply trying to run out the clock and retire to the golf course.

    And thanks for the trillions is new entitlements, illegal aliens, and hordes of welfare single mothers ! success !

  156. All those same things existed and grew under George W.. the Cheney puppet.

  157. President Obama was elected in large part because so many people imprinted upon him their own hopes and dreams for his presidency. While that helped him then it has limited him since. Although I disagree with many of his positions I believe he has the courage of his convictions and deserves credit for not abandoning them. When people, often on the left, accuse him of abandoning his beliefs it is probably because they actually mean he abandoned theirs and they assumed they were his also.

    Who the President is and where the country is at are two very different points on a line. A persuader as Commander-in-Chief might have bridged that gap but that is not who President Obama is. He would have been a goof president for a country with a clear vision of where it wanted to go, but he's not a very good choice for a country with such deep division.

    Lastly, the media shares much of the blame. It embraced Mr. Obama without questioning when he was running against Hillary Clinton when she was ready to be President and he needed more experience. Now the same media muses about his competence. Again, maybe the right guy, just not the right time.

    We're going to have to be much more clear headed about what Presidents can accomplish before we go to the polls again. Then perhaps we won't be as disappointed when we find out under our pile of hopes there is a human being with his or her own hopes, abilities, and interests.

  158. At the very least the guy can string sentences together and make sense, more than can be said of some of his opposition.
    And yes the guy has morals, more than can be said of his opposition.
    And the guy persist in Not interfering in other peoples squabbles and making matters worse, he prefers peace, more than can be said of his oppposition.
    And yes the guy is Highly intelligent, a good advert for America, Wise, and very well-informed about the world, more than can be said of his opposition.
    And in most civilized countries the guy has an approval rating of over 70%, more than can be said of his opposition.
    And he probably saved your Mother, Father, Grandma, and Grandpa by providing them with Health Care which is more than can be said of his opposition. Just a Wonderful person this guy Obama, more than I can say for his opposition.

  159. All is really proves is a black man must work twice has hard to get half as far as a white man. America will not shine when this period is remembered in history.

  160. Always race!what about competence?

  161. He was a very bright man who got elected to a job he did not like. He was not annointed king. It is a political job and he doesn't like or do politics. He abdicated Congress to Reid and Pelosi and they weren't elected President. A man who loves golf played 1 time with a guy who loves it more than him and happens to be Speaker. He'd rather play and hang out with his buds from Chicago. Given the books coming out by former cabinet members with serious gravitas, he didn't listen to them, it was his friends. And it has turned out that they are as incompetent as many of the inner circle of the last administration. Blaming the opposition for failure to engage in the politics of running the country sounds good in an echo chamber, but there are millions of us who voted for the man and are sad about his performance and lost opportunities.

  162. When Obama was elected president I remember Sean Hannity derided Obama as "The Annointed One."

  163. Foreign policy is what will cost him his presidency when honest historians write about him.
    He never wanted to make a hard decision for fear that it would antagonize the far left wing
    Of his base.he backed the wrong faction in Egypt,antagonized the Israelis and helped create
    ISIS by not forcing Malaki to treat the Sunnis as partners rather tban mortal enemies.
    The economy is slowly improving,Obamacare is pretty much of a dead heat in terms of
    Helping or hurting the moiile class,but his fear of offending the far left in terms of foreign
    Policy will haunt him forever.I voted for him,but he has been a bitter disappointment.

  164. Whither the "far left?"

    and why are Israelis antagonized by the insistence that they conform their actions to international law?

  165. It is very simple. The economy is doing well and average wages have risen considerably, healthcare is available to all and healthcare spending is finally dropping, Bin Laden is dead, marriage is open in many states to gays, and, yet, Obama is unpopular.

    It is race, stupid. It is so sad that White Americans still cannot handle the fact that a Black man is running the country. Misreading ISIS? Give me a break. How about the previous administration's lying on WMD in Iraq? Talk about misreading a situation. Ebola? Mr. Obama has been very sane on Ebola and his approach is proving correct. "Competence" is a trope that Whites have been using for years against Blacks and Hispanics.

    Whites largely re-elected George W. Bush, who may go down as the worst President in our history. What was his SIGNATURE program? Tanking the economy, getting us into a disastrous war, watching New Orleans drown?, ignoring warnings about 9/11?

    It is a very sad commentary as we approach the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War in 2015 that race is still such a prominent issue in America.

    Mr. Douthat you once again miss the key point.

  166. The Republicans have managed, through their lies, deception, misinformation to turn our nation against the President of OUR United States. They will GLOAT beyond belief if they manage through this election to get more of their ilk to help them continue with their damage to our country. GREAT HONK!!!

  167. Perhaps its time that we put the blame for the decline of our democracy and the caliber of our leaders where it belongs - on poorly educated, intellectually lazy, xenophobic citizens who seem content to accept a life that (for most of them) will never be as secure or comfortable as that of their parents. 50% of them can't be bothered to register or vote. Of that 50%, most haven't a clue who is currently holding office, much less who is running in the next election, nor could most describe with any degree of accuracy a single major issue confronting the country. Poor leadership (we have both Republican and Democratic examples of that) can't be resolved just by finding better candidates for president, we need better citizens.

  168. I was never so excited in my lifetime to vote for a presidential candidate as I was for Barack Obama. I liked his mantra of “hope and change.” What might have America looked like had the parties worked with him during a time of real crisis in our country? More jobs? An improved infrastructure? I blame both the Republicans and the 24/7 news media for spreading cynicism. The Republicans who decided it was much more important from Day One to see this president fail—no matter the real cost to their fellow citizens--and the 24/7 media who continue to buy into all the false equivalencies spouted because, ratings. I read letters to the editor in my local newspaper decrying Obama for destroying America. What’s changed in the past six years that he’s been in office that makes you think so? Your healthcare costs have gone up? That would have happened with or without the ACA. Has he come for your guns? How has he seriously destroyed America as you know it?

  169. Obama did not fail. He succeeded in what he was trying to do. Tank the country.

  170. I agree with your letter about 95%. I cried when Obama cqmpaigned in Portland Oregon. I was so energized and so hopeful. I actually thought we would now have a new FDR and a new NEW DEAL. Alas, how cynical I have become!!!
    But, can anyone remember a president who was more thwarted in his every effort by the opposition? As crwzy as it sounds, I have always felt that Obama could only succeed if he were to incarcerate the entire republican opposition in internment camps so that he would have the leewwy to reengineer this tired, exhausted, and sclerotic country. Call me crazy. No biggie

  171. bravo,Anne.

  172. Obama did not lose America; Obama deliberately chose to betray those who elected him when Obama went with Geithner, Bernanke et al. It was just a matter of time until those who believed in “Hope” opened their eyes & saw the Obama reality.

    Just like those who wanted to believe in W found it ever more difficult to do so as time revealed how W wrongfully took us into Iraq & then moved from blunder to disaster in Iraq all in the name of spreading democracy & created a nation deeply divided along sectarian & tribal lines. Perhaps eyes were opened with Katrina & the sheer incompetence of those intent on privatizing all possible. Or perhaps it took the blowout of the financial markets in 2008 which, if W & the Rs had ended Social Security, could have fully wiped any chance of retirement for the masses.

    A Lincoln said you can fool some of the people all of the time; you can fool all of the people some of the time; but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.

    Time ran out for Obama. The bankers got their bonuses even tho their banks were insolvent. Despite the many pages of Dodd Frank there has been no meaningful reform of the Financial Sector. The 1% are doing better than they have in over 80 years while all else have their incomes decreasing. Higher education is being priced out of reach for many & so on.

    Yet all presents itself as an opportunity for the 1% to increase their share of the pie as a result of Obama's policies. What more need be said

  173. Republicans had some really bad Senate candidates in 2010 and 2012. Democrats have some really bad Senate candidates in 2014. That should decide most of the elections, even though President Obama still has not had an outright disaster of war or recession. What is unknown until Tuesday is whether the voters who could not keep their insurance got better or worse insurance, and whether many voters have decided the war on women and the wage gap, or want to hear more.

  174. I have read some of the best comments here today. You guys really summed up Mr. Obama's presidency and what we should do going forward - including the one term six year suggestion.

    For me, I am just glad that we have Barack for our President. I am sure he has done the best he knows how. I remember even the conservative columnist George Will said on ABC's THIS WEEK that Mr. Obama should run for the presidency some seven years ago. So we have no regret, but good memories.

  175. The Prez seems to have two gears. First is the campaign gear that got him elected. Here, he's up on his toes, jabbing, moving, smiling, self promoting in a good way, quick, hard to hit. Think Ali.

    Then there's his governing gear. Flat footed, lumbering, will take hits and not counter punch, even thinks he can talk his way out of a fight with crazies. No more self promotion in this gear. No explanation of why he won't hit back. Remember the first debate for his second term? He was in the wrong gear all night. With a world gone crazy, people want our president up on his toes, jabbing, counter punching, explaining himself and the world so Americans can believe someone's in charge. He should be channeling Roosevelt, and even Truman. Once again, he's been in the wrong gear for most of his 6 years, even when good things were happening. It may cost him his chance for greatness.

  176. Maybe reublicans are liars maybe democrats are liars. Maybe they are all liars. Maybe America is just getting what's coming to us for being current liars that don't fear God. I don't think it really matters who is president we have a great fall coming because of decades and decades of lies and curruption in government, the removal of God from schools and society, and a legal and justice system that is all about the $. I pray for this country but I'm afraid of what's coming if we don't turn to God like yesterday.

  177. There are 3 political entities...The old GOP Republians:
    The Democrats: and the Tea Party who are the Mouthpieces
    of one percent of all US voters.
    The Tea Party is the spoiler for the Republicans as well as
    The Democrats..: and the most destructive political entity
    in US history...the tool of only a few who fund their electoral campaigns.
    The Tea Party do not have either the interests of GOP or DEM parties.
    The Tea Party impediment to bi partisan governance is progeny of
    Citizens United...and should be loathed by both GOP and DEMs alike.
    It would be important to name those who are simply the servants of
    the multi millionairs who fund them..and to vote them all out of governance.
    I would think that real GOP Republicans would reclaim their true identity
    and their self respect....It would really nice to have John McCain to say
    he was not a Tea Party member...because he is not...nor are many others.

  178. Not "north of 45 percent," or "toward the low forties" (now), and "mid-to-upper forties" (then) don't seem sufficiently different to warrant the conclusion that the President is an "anchor" this year but was not in 2012..

  179. The fifth and best explanation is that the divisive tactics the Democrats and the their allies in the media employed to win re-election for Obama in 2012 -- exacerbating conflicts between the sexes and the races by demonizing straight cisgendered non-Hispanic native white men as the source of all evil -- are backfiring in this midterm election, when the electorate tends to be better informed and better educated.

  180. His problem is he can sing a beautiful song (although I have always thought his oratory is a bit over rated), but he can't manage. He doesn't have a clue.

    His agencies run wild without adult supervision, and the only time he looks over their shoulder is when they screw up and the media throw that in his face. He can't even seem to fix the problem when the absence of minding the store finally gets his attention.

    He had no management experience to begin with, and he just hasn't been able to learn on the job. I thought maybe he had after the first four years, and boy, have I been disappointed. So has the nation.

    He never should have left the ivory tower of law school professorship, where words matter but reality, other than that of lawyers and judges talking to each other, is never tested.

  181. Obama and his people run great election campaigns. But, once the election ends they seem to believe that it is over. The President now runs a permanent campaign. He and his people have to be out there every day with the talking points pounding away at the opposition. Obama seems to have no stomach for that. When he decided not to hammer home the message is when he basically yielded to the GOP/Conservative media's narrative. Needless to say, that was a big mistake. He doesn't really know how to fight back, or doesn't have the stomach for it.

  182. Ross's theories for Obama's low ratings:
    "He gets blamed for Republican intransigence?
    "It’s Obamacare — yes, still"
    "It’s the economy — yes, still"
    "It’s foreign policy — and competence"

    how about this:
    "it's racism"

  183. From being a country of "racism", we have become a country of "hidden racism". Not a picture we like to present to the rest of the world. But the rest of the world knows. And many times acts the same way......

  184. Saying that critics really harbor racist feelings about the president is an intellectually lazy and dishonest approach. There are simply too many serious issues that are being pushed aside by this self-proclaimed "most transparent and open" administration, which uses "pivot" as its mantra. Yes, Obama can rouse people, but he apparently can't lead a group anywhere. http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/TransparencyandOpenGovernment

  185. One negative group that is not identified in the popularity polling is made up of non-racists who simply have grown tired of President Obama, as if his show has run too many seasons. This group can be dismissed as unconsciously racist or superficial, but I think it is not insignificant in this era of politics as entertainment, and its "loss" could have been stopped by message discipline.

    The president is over exposed. It seems there is no disaster he will not inspect, particularly in purple states like Colorado, and no "breaking news" upon which the White House has no vapid comment. Mr. Obama's original eloquence has degenerated through repetition. His responses at news conferences are too long, too cliche-ridden. The public reaction is too often attributed to a perception of incompetence, indecisiveness or timid leadership when it is actually just boredom.

    I was surprised to learn from the Ken Burns documentary that Franklin Delano Roosevelt's iconic "Fireside Chats" were only about 30 in number between 1933 and 1944 and that FDR disciplined his use of them because he wanted always to be engaging and fresh.

  186. I can blow holes in the four explanations posited by Douthat mostly because the explanations are biased or incomplete. Most commenters probably can too. (One annoying meme out there in media land is that if Obama had the same ratings in 2012 we'd have elected Romney. That is extreme wishful thinking. Romney was always heading for the showers.)

    Re: "...it mostly reflects a results-based verdict on what seems like poor execution..." This is a pretty good explanation if you simply change the wording to "it mostly reflects a results-based verdict regardless of execution..."

    Most likely, we're in a typical six-year sense of ennui about an incumbent administration. Is this election going to mean that the Republicans are somehow back in the ballgame for 2016? Probably not.

  187. Most of us hate our government, just look at the polls. With that being the case we want divided government who fights each other and leaves us alone.
    People cry about "Congress hasnt done anything"....Yep, and we need to keep it that way. The democrats will win the next presidency and the GOP will at least keep the house....PERFECT, neither can do much harm that way....

  188. Obama lost America because it is not clear what he believes. He may not know what he believes. He cannot stick to anything. He seems disinterested.

  189. Oh, Ross. America was lost when it elected Richard Nixon; it tumbled further with Reagan, the acting president, and pitched into the abyss with Dubya, once or twice, depending on who's counting.

    if you think the president is unable to move Congress, that is correct. But he didn't lose more than some.

  190. His problems are actually far more serious than the ones alluded to here. As matters now stand, he seems intent on entering into an agreement with Iran that could eventually provide them with access to nuclear weapons, link his name forever in history to Neville Chamberlain, undermine public support in Israel for a peace agreement with the Palestinians and dramatically reduce Jewish support for the Democratic Party's presidential nominee in 2016. His many friends and supporters, of whom I generally count myself one, should be persistently warning him of this now, because the time for taking the correct actions against Iran are growing short.

  191. We,Americans do not that much patience, we do not like anybody very long. We date a person for years and then marry and in few years we do not like our spouse. We change our jobs and we hire and fire very frequently. We do not keep our friends for long time . We always think that some body,s wife is more beautiful and better. We think my neighbor,s lawn is greener. We elect president and love him. After short time we feel the other candidate was better. Our political pendulum swings every couple of years. We do not have mental and emotional stability. That is our nature. Now we have Obama fatigue.

  192. Obama did one too many.
    One too many lies.
    One too many rounds of golf
    One too many fundraisers.
    One too many enemies enabled.
    One too many allies slighted.
    One too many scandals covered up.
    One too many examples of incomeptence.
    And finally, one too many one too many.
    As a result, the public no longer trusts him, our enemies no longer respect him, his Party no longer wants him around, and worst of all, even his number one fan, the NYT, runs an article that admits that he's lost America.

  193. I sort of agree; however I believe at some point performance, or more specifically poor performance catches up. Even in a polarized political environment.

    We can continue to rename, excuse, and spin; however in the end it may be even harder than common core to make it add up.

    A "don't let the facts get in the way of your decision" attitude eventually wears thin and people stop believing and are forced to make a change.

  194. With Faux Noise propaganda machine running non-stop 24 hours anti-Obama spin and Rush, the most popular talk radio show, doing his anti-Obama daily rants, the Tea Party crazies, GOP House, and Senate Republicans all obfuscating and frustrating any thing the president does these days, it's not hard to figure out "How Obama 'Lost' America" as Ross puts it,
    BUT the Republican Party is no longer a national party and will pay for this during the next presidential campaign.

  195. I agree with part of what you say here, regarding the perception of incompetence. The fixation over Obamacare would never have happened if not for the incompetent rollout of the website, by a President who was until then seen as competent and tech-savvy. Like Bush with Katrina, Obama hasn't recovered from this, and then add on the Secret Service and other failures of competence.

    Regarding foreign policy, I think the public still sees that even though Obama cannot foresee or forestall the constant stream of disasters in the Mideast, nether could the Republicans. And many of the problems there have been vastly augmented by our disastrous war policy under the Republicans. I don't hear Republicans asking Reagan's old line, "Are you better off now after 6 years of Obama?" We are better off, our economy and government accounts have recovered fully from what the GOP did to them, and we have no new wars on the credit card. Imagine what our situation would now be if we had had a President McCain!

  196. Ross, you begin by pointing to approval ratings below 50 percent as an albatross for President Obama, but how about examining why Congress' approval ratings are barely in double-digits (which is an improvement from an all time low last year)? They're the branch (along with some Governors) whose jobs are on the line, not Obama.

  197. Since 1974, Congressional approval hasn't often been above 40%. In that time period, it was above 40% for about six years ('98 - '06). It was only above 60% for about two years - it spiked to 84%(!) in late '02.
    http://www.gallup.com/poll/1600/congress-public.aspx

    People generally like and re-elect their incumbents but dislike Congress as a whole - probably because they (the voters) don't get every action they want from Congress and blame it on "those other guys."

    Comparing Presidential and Congressional approval ratings is pretty much meaningless.

  198. If you press the folks who hate Obama, you find little substance beyond right wing talking points. Since these points are manufactured and fabricated to disparage Obama, and are fed to news consumers 24/7, their opinions simply reflect that. I thought this was common knowledge. No mystery here.

  199. "points are manufactured and fabricated to disparage Obama, and are fed to news consumers 24/7"

    There has been at least as much news time spent defending him or, at least, making excuses for him. Now even many of the defenders are becoming disillusioned.

  200. As an explanation, how about "He is perceived as ineffectual and weak." Frankly, in this both Republicans and Democrats agree.

    Republicans take glee in Mr. Obama's naive attempt of being bipartisan, of blaming 'Congress' versus Republican Leaders, in "expecting lawmakers to do their job" as the President's legacy burns. Democrats are deflated by a candidate that promised action against Wall Street (and we got none), that promised a Carbon Tax (yet fiddled till Democrats lost the House), and who promised siding with labor but never did. Independents expected a forceful defender of Privacy Rights, Main Street, solid anti-Interventionism and Transparency --and we got none of the above.

    What we all got is, for better or worse, is a perception of a "never rock the boat, let me negotiate all of my principles and past positions" person --never a leader. Regardless of political orientation, everybody loves to hate a weakling.

    executive action on Immigration (just to delay later).

  201. Obama rocked the boat when he became President and white Americans will never let him forget it. Rocking the boat brings fear for one's purse and political power. Obama and the Democrats bring fear into the hearts of the heartland and the fear must be assuaged. This election will cost upwards of hundreds of millions of dollars. The fear must be assuaged. TV viewers in swing states must view tens of thousands of ads that foster lie upon lie all to help assuage that fear. The courts have ruled that lying in political ads is not illegal and boy do they lie. Welcome to the world of Citizens United.

  202. Give the voters what they want - privatized and bankrupt Social Security - privatized and bankrupt Medicare - more tax cuts for the rich - more military spending and a promise to cut spending while ballooning the deficit - that's the ticket.

  203. Obama "lost" me because he isn't a fighter and didn't go head to head with Republicans and win.

  204. It's the economy. The wealthy are doing fine; the working classes aren't. Wages haven't increased. Job growth has been in part-time work. Most of the increase in GDP has gone to the top 1%. Obama's initial stimulus was too small (as he was told at the time); and he allowed a turn to austerity which further dampened growth. We have a mess in the Middle East and no one believes his "degrade and defeat" pronouncements. Obamacare isn't the problem; even the Republicans have given up on that.

  205. Had President Obama ended the wars in Irak and Afghanistan on January 20, 2009; brought the economy back from the brink of the Greatest Depression Imaginable by the end of that week, killed Bin Laden with his bare hands, bombed Assad and his crowded cities -- along with Russia and the Ukrainian rebels while he was at it, personally married every same sex couple in the country, checked company ledgers every night to insure women were being paid fairly, protected the environment even more by working as a garbage collector a night, convinced the wealthy to pay the same rate of taxes as secretaries, made America energy efficient in not six years but six days, and brought unemployment down to 1%, his approval ratings wouldn't be any higher than they are now. And, no, I'm not going to play the race card. It's the elephant in the room and we are always aware of it. No, Mr. Douthat, the President has not lost most Americans; be never had them in the first pace. But elephants have a long memory. Just ask Jackie Robinson.

  206. It's insulting to make an analogy between the Iraq War and Healthcare reform. The ACA is designed to improve health; the war has brought death and injuries physical and psychological to Americans and Iraqis alike. President Bush told explicit lies about WMDs and nuclear threats to invade Iraq; there were website crashes for insurance purchases and changed deadlines for implementation stages of the ACA. Healthcare reform will continue to be refined; the removal of Saddam Hussein has brought out ISIS and other Jihadi killers who couldn't have operated under a dictator's iron fist. One "signature issue" has nothing to do with the other, besides offering a window into the character of the man most associated with it.

  207. It's really not that hard to figure out. Everything this administration does is political, they're just not seen as doing what's best for the country, they're always seen as doing what's politically expedient. Even with Ebola, they haven't allowed NIH to come up with a firm policy on how to handle it, it's changed many times and mostly because of politics. When you can't protect the country from an infectious disease without worrying about politics, something is terribly wrong with your thinking process.

  208. The wisest and most visionary president of my lifetime from Truman to Obama was James Earl Carter. President Carter understood the future and he tried to turn the country around. People will not follow a leader to where they do not want to go. When Carter told us to turn down the thermostat put up with the oil embargoes and extricate our selves from the intrigues of the oligarchs, mullahs,dictators and ayatollahs of Gulf petroleum producers. Carter put solar panels on the White House and told us there must be pain to have any gain.
    In the bible we read of Moses who led the Hebrews out of Egypt but when the reality of the hard journey becomes known the Hebrews jump at the opportunity to follow Korach back to the comforts of Egypt.
    I heard President Obama tell the electorate you are the change you have been waiting for but when push came to shove we gave Obama the same Democrats and Republicans who sold out Carter back in 1980.
    Where were the voters when congress shut down the government, where were the marchers telling the Senators and Congressmen that he is our President and they must help him do the job he was elected to do.
    I do not know how to rate Presidents who believe in democracy yet must serve an electorate that is to lazy to make sure it works.
    Maybe it is time to turn over the reins of power to the GOP who at least understand power and how to use it and do so without any consideration for the will of the people.

  209. * laughing * The Obama apologists are out in force in this forum again. News flash: mid-term elections are ALWAYS a referendum on the sitting President and his policies.

  210. The problem is that our politicians do not level with the American people.
    The problems identified in the article will still be there long after President a Obama leaves office unless Congress introduces legislation to deal with them.
    Our economic problems are structural due to outsourcing of valuable manufacturing jobs and new technology
    We need corporate tax reform taking away special concessions for the few and lowering the overall tax rate to attract new investment
    Our infrastructure is crumbling we need to invest in it now while interest rates are low .
    We need to lower health care costs starting with Congress allowing the administration to negotiate drug prices down to the levels enjoyed by all other industrial nations , this hurts our competitiveness
    We need to raise the minimum wage and have a fair wage for women.This will reduce the need for welfare payments and give our people dignity and even greater incentive
    We need Immigration reform as passed by the senate
    President Obama has proposed all these measures which most Americans agree are directionally right
    The Presidents approach to destroy ISIS is the best of a lot of terrible alternatives as is his approach to Ebola , Russia and Iran ,in time he will be proven correct not to put American troops on the ground anywhere
    The Democrats will lose ground on Tuesday and Americans will lose another two years of dealing with these issues

  211. Barack Obama hasn't "lost" America, any more than FDR lost it in 1942, when Democrats were trounced in the midterms, or Ike lost it in 1958, when his party suffered the same fate.

    As for this why things look bleak for the president's party ahead of Tuesday, "He gets blamed for Republican intransigence" works for me. Except Ross Douthat presents it as the rallying cry of desperate "partisans." His partisan counter-argument doesn't mention that the electorate's blaming the president for Republican intransigence essentially describes the GOP game plan formulated in 2009. Block everything, delay whenever possible, don't give the president anything that can be construed as a victory for him, even if it's good policy. He'll be held accountable, not us. That's the gist of the Republicans strategy--the party that had run on the slogan "Country First" a few months earlier. And they'd decided on this course well ahead of Mitch McConnell's "one term" comment.

    Even the most accomplished presidents on foreign-policy were criticized for so called "incompetence" at one time or another, especially ahead of midterms. Check out FDR and Ike's press leading up to the above-mentioned elections.

    As for the economy and Obamacare, in time the president will rightfully be given proper credit by the group that's in the best position to determine a president's legacy: historians.

  212. Actually the unemployment is a lot higher than 6 percent. 91 million Americans don't have jobs. Then too, the jobs Americans are getting are low paying and often part time with no benefits. Obamacare transformed the 40 hr work week to a 25-30 hr week. And even these part time jobs are hard to find. That was probably the most significant transformation of America Obama accomplished. Nobody is fooled by the so called 6 percent unemployment figure. Even to folks who don't follow the news closely, it feels wrong. That feel will certainly translate into a backlash against Dems next Tuesday. Reps don't have to stand for much in this environment, and they don't.
    The Obama failures are too many to mention. For example, just one, his Fed kept interest rates near zero, and still does, while printing billions that went the pockets of big banks. To big to fail turned out to be too big to suffer like all savers have. While stock purchasers, banks, and home buyers have benefited from these low interest rates, MoneyRates.com reports that savers have lost $758 billion of purchasing power over the five years ending in 2013. Declining savings value precipitates money transfers to other investments like gold and stocks. Thus less investment capital is available for business expansion and upkeep. Hence fewer jobs, declining real wages, and a lowered living standard. The regulatory stranglehold also kills economic activity. Obama appears to have no concept of these effects.