Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Barack Obama's Lousy Vacation

President Obama has been vacationing in the tony confines of Martha's Vinyard, hiking, biking, and so on. An ordinary fully-employed American, let alone the millions of unemployed, can't afford a summer break on this exclusive isle. So the President has taken some heat for golfing while many Americans line up at food banks hoping for fresh produce in addition to canned green beans.

To make things worse for Obama, Washington was hit today by the largest earthquake in the mid-Atlantic region in over a century. The quake registered 5.8 on the Richter scale, relatively moderate as these things go, and little damage was done. But it sent tens of thousands of office workers into the streets, and then on to a long, slow, sweaty commute home. It didn't help the President's image that he could stay cool in gentle Atlantic breezes hundreds of miles away.

A Gallup poll added to the misery of the President's vacation. It now appears that the President is basically in a dead heat with four leading Republican contenders: Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, Ron Paul and Michelle Bachmann. That's a notable change from polls just a few weeks ago, which placed him ten percentage points or more ahead of any Republican challenger. Of course, any poll taken today has only limited value for predicting 14 months in the future. What it does do, however, is encourage disgruntled Democrats to find a more liberal prospect to challenge Obama in the Democractic primaries next year. The core of the Democratic Party has become increasingly disenchanted with Obama's expedient shifts to the middle, and would be quite interested in finding a credible primary challenger. The worse Obama does in the polls, the more credible potential challengers become.

But in adversity there is opportunity. Even as nature wrought the earthquake on the President, nature also brings the gift of a hurricane predicted to sweep up the East Coast this weekend. The President is currently scheduled to return to Washington at the beginning of next week. He should shorten his vacation and be back in the White House before the 'cane arrives. Then, he can arrange to be prominently photographed hunkering down and eating dinner straight out of a can of pork and beans, a victim just like all the other folks who have to suffer through the hurricane. It would give voters something to connect to. And that would do him a lot more good than another round of golf.

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