The GOP’s Pony Syndrome
June 25, 2009
My friend Jim Ellis’ analysis reminds me of an old joke President Reagan used to tell about the boy who was so optimistic that when a psychiatrist showed him a room piled high with horse manure, he climbed to the top and began digging, exclaiming, “There must be a pony in here somewhere.”
Jim translates a small drop in the president’s approval into signs of a great Republican wave next November. Jim ignores a dangerous number for Republican candidates: the congressional Republicans’ disapproval rating, which ranges from 52 to 72 percent in recent polls. More ominous is the fact that the party is alienating its base; approval within the Republican Party has fallen to a slim plurality in the latest Pew Poll.
Beltway Republicans have been way off target in their messaging. Their attempt to label the Democrats as socialists, which some Republicans considered “stupid” and “absurd,” only increased public approval for socialism. Nonetheless, Beltway Republicans continue to rely on the “S” word as their principal weapon in the health care debate—even when the latest New York Times poll reports that 72 percent of Americans (and 50 percent of Republicans!) favor a government-run health plan.
The Beltway Republicans also are risking a scarce commodity that will be valuable next fall—their credibility—with claims that Obama is leading us to economic ruin. Non-profit business organization the Conference Board has reported “sharp increases” in the nation’s leading economic indicators and consumer confidence the past few months.
And despite Jim’s wishful thinking, the latest ABC/Washington Post poll has Obama sitting pretty at 65 percent approval. Unless the Republicans change course, it appears that next November the president will do some serious fly swatting, leaving Republicans with no pony, only manure.
No ponies were harmed in the writing of this op-ed.