So, the Tea Party-Grover Norquist-Koch brothers “Axis of No Taxes” has managed to downgrade the country’s credit rating–though caring about Standard & Poor’s poor standards is as stupid as the whole phony debt ceiling “crisis” in which the “compromise” gave Republicans “98 percent of what we want.”
One result? Barack Obama’s approval ratings are the lowest ever, and talking heads are acting as if Rick Perry or Michele Bachmann might be our next president. If that were true, it might not be all bad, for reasons I’ll get to in a moment. But I think a Perry or Bachmann presidency is only slightly more likely than the possibility that PUMAs will push Hillary Clinton into a primary campaign against Obama.
For one thing, while Obama ratings are low, he still fares far better than Congress and everyone else involved in the debt ceiling debacle, and his numbers are pretty close to those of both Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan at the same point in their presidencies (and still higher than the low points for either of those two-term presidents).
Who else is down? In fact, the Tea Party is also at a new low, well below the president in popularity.
Despite that, Tea Party-esque candidates Bachmann and Perry seem to be gaining traction (though I don’t discount the fact that they’re just getting lots of attention because they’re entertaining). And in a crazy primary system in which extremist nuts can fare better than more reasoned candidates–but also boring, compromising, capable-of-actually-governing candidates–perhaps a Bachmann or Perry could win.
Maybe we’ll even see a Perry-Bachmann ticket. Though I’d prefer a Perry–Palin “secession ticket,” assuming Palin isn’t busy running for John Kyl’s Senate seat. Or perhaps Perry and Bachmann will split the conservative evangelical vote, ultimately giving the GOP candidacy to serial flip-flopper but perceived moderate Mitt Romney.
I think Romney is the one Republican who might beat Obama, who probably doesn’t deserve to be re-elected but whose primary advantage seems to be the weakness of the GOP. But let’s assume Obama loses. Further, let’s assume that Republicans hold the House, and even win the Senate. Scary, huh?
Well, maybe not. In fact, such an outcome might be bad for the country–but maybe not, in the long run (and as a historian, I like looking at the long run). GOP control of Congress and the White House might even help Democrats in the long run.
Because even if the Republicans win EVERY open Senate seat, they still cannot gain the 60-seat majority that current Senate Republicans have shown us is necessary to get anything through the Senate. And if it can’t get through the Senate, we’ve found that the Republican House voted doesn’t matter. And if a bill doesn’t get through the Senate, a Republican president can’t sign it.
Do you really think that seriously outnumbered Democrats are going to be more agreeable than slightly outnumbered Republicans have been? Or that Americans are going to understand in 2016 why the GOP couldn’t manage to do anything positive, despite controlling the White House and both houses of Congress?