The roof is pretty much falling down around President Obama’s head. Obamacare, finally rolling out and crashing on takeoff, is more unpopular than ever. The economy remains dismal, with labor force participation hitting near-record lows and young people’s job prospects in the toilet. Poverty rates are sky-high, with record numbers on food stamps. The federal government is about to run out of money again, having incurred nearly $17 trillion in debt. In foreign affairs, Obama has become a laughingstock. Today Vladimir Putin, in a brazen display of contempt, called Secretary of State John Kerry a “liar” just hours before he shook Obama’s hand upon Obama’s arrival in Russia.
After nearly five years, it is hard to see how anyone could defend Obama’s record in office. And yet, in the Rasmussen Survey, over the month of August an average of 47% of voters–there’s that number again!–said they approve of Obama’s job performance. Obama’s approval rating has taken a a hit because of recent disasters, but only a very small one. It seems that nearly half the population will say they approve of him, no matter what.
So one asks: who are these people? Are they dependent on various forms of welfare, and therefore don’t care about anything except ever-expanding federal largesse? Are they diehard partisans who think that even the most incompetent Democrat is better than the alternative? Are they low-information voters who are so insulated from the news that they don’t understand how bad Obama’s record is? Or are they so enamored of the idea of our First Black President that they will tell pollsters that they like what he is doing, even if they can’t think of a single positive accomplishment?
I think that all of the above explanations account for some of the 47%. When the federal government spends $3.8 trillion a year, it can buy a lot of votes. Remember that every one of those 3.8 trillion dollars represents a check that someone cashed. Beyond that, I have written many times about the over-the-top emails with which the Democratic Party bombards its members, painting Republicans as, more or less, the Devil. Repetition is persuasive, and many millions of Democrats will probably say they approve of any Democratic president, regardless of how he performs. (The same, for better or worse, is not true of Republican voters.) And there is no doubt that a huge number of voters are astonishingly ignorant about the issues. This is demonstrated by every man in the street interview on YouTube.
Democrats in Washington D.C. are euphoric because they believe that they have forged a permanent majority that will rule for the foreseeable future. That is indeed a frightening possibility: In today’s world, with one in six Americans on food stamps and Kourtney Kardashian better known than Dwight Eisenhower, a coalition of the dependent, the uninformed and the rabidly partisan can easily constitute a majority. Those groups certainly make up the largest portion of the 47%. But there is perhaps one ray of hope: it may be that Obama’s seeming ability to defy gravity, polling reasonably well while his policies lie about him in ruins, is due in substantial part to his being our First Black President.
As one who has never cared much about skin tone one way or another, I find this hard to fathom. But there is considerable evidence that many Americans judge Obama differently from other politicians because he is African-American. We can hope, at least, that the phenomenon of an utterly failed president being re-elected, and continuing to command significant popular support even as his policies become ever more unpopular, is a one-time event, and that other Democrats will not defy gravity so effortlessly.
But even if that hypothesis proves true, the proliferation of dependent and uninformed Americans is a problem that must be dealt with, if the republic is to prosper.
PAUL ADDS: And if the next president is Hillary Clinton, maybe she’ll be unsinkable because she’s our First Female President.