Friday, April 2, 2010

iCal it: the Kidder-in-Chief will win 2012

Prognosticators and pundits are looking to the November elections for big gains for Republicans. After all, they have everything on their side: indignation, rage, offense, fury, resentment, all the things that indicate a big voter turn-out. On the other hand, the Dems are, well, Dems. They don't do organization well, whereas the GOP? David Frum learned what happened when you cross the party line. He's been shunned. First rule of GOP Club: don't talk about GOP Club.

So they're a tight, focused, well-knit unit that only has to overcome the upcoming C-Street tax evasion scandal, militias, racism, threatened violence, several sex scandals, a lesbian-themed bondage club outing, a party leader who puts his foot in his mouth every time he opens it, ridiculous spending on party outings, a message that is limited to "less tax" and "less regulation," rescued-bank rapaciousness, hate radio, the unraveling James O'Keefe "journalism" fraud, and so on. That's a tight ship right there.

They're used to combating regular Dems, though, and not Obama. Don't get me wrong: I'm not 100% thrilled with Obama, if only because he wants more offshore drilling. He's got other Republican-leaning moves that annoy me. But he's ascendant again. In the primaries, when things looked worst, he boosted his sunny disposition and charged forward like a winner. It's not a stretch to say that, with health care, when things looked worst again, he pulled out an astounding victory and fulfilled his promise. Not in the way we all wanted--no public option, mandates--but we realize it's a start (that's our rationalization, anyway) and, given the GOP and Blue Dog Dems, was probably the best he could manage. That he got any health care reform at all accomplished is almost a miracle.

Now we can look back over the last year and nearly three months with a little perspective and realize that he's accomplished more than we've thought. Not just health care: the Lily Ledbetter act, the stimulus, student loan reform, reversal of the ban on stem cell research, a new START accord with Russia, returned the Dow to its level before he was president, and saved the economy from a much deeper depression than it might have been... Those, and more, would be enough to polish the CV of any president. Obama's administration accomplished this in *one year.* He's a winner. Even schlubs like the Dems rally around winners.

So now he's rallying supporters and straddlers around the new health care reform, and his sunniness is out for all to see. He's been joking about how the sky hasn't fallen, no asteroids have hit, the earth hasn't cracked, and people are still able to choose their doctors, and people respond well. His new line is to go after the media who are freaking out over his poll numbers, telling them, in essence, get *real,* people: it's only been a week. His winning joke now is that pundits are like farmers who plant one day, come out the next, see no plants, and announce there's been a crop failure. He chides, really, rather than mocks, and his lack of nastiness brings people to him. Remember the undauntable Obama of the campaigns? That's who we have now.

That this attitude will win him more legislative battles can be predicted from the latest responses of Congresspeople, both GOP and Dems. Some Goopers are not only backing off their calls for repeal, they're admitting some good things in the bill; and both they and Dems who opposed the bill are taking credit for it. This is significant: Obama's become more assured, more respected...more Presidential. When you can take your opponents down a peg with gentle humor, you're in charge. People like that.