The President is on the ropes, they say, and anyone could walk in and take the office from him. They have a litany of complaints - dismissed by the President's defenders in the ruling party with a range of attitudes from snarky disdain to mock horror - and they have a list of candidates ready to vie for the chance to put their ideas on the national ballot.
But supreme overconfidence seems to be the theme of the primary race. From the acknowledged establishment front-runner no one really likes; to the more appealing-but also less familiar challenger; to the out-of-touch Cold Warrior spouting ancient Soviet-era ideas; to the religion-tainted crackpot; to the exciting governor who implodes when he opens his mouth; to the untrusted dark horse with kooky ideas; and the unexpected denial of candidates who thought it was their turn - the opposition seems bent on selling ideas that have been roundly rejected by the electorate rather than gaining the confidence of the voters and offering any solutions to contemporary problems.
And after the dust settles, the President will walk away with a Mandate from the People to continue doing business as he has been doing business all along. He will double down on ideas and strategies from his first term, and not only disappoint and alienate the independent electorate that chose him as the lesser of two evils, but also erode and embitter his own base. (Of course, most of them only dig in and defend him to avoid the appearance of "giving in" or to entertain themselves by watching their political enemies fume.)
Sound familiar? Yeah - the 2004 race sucked.
You would think that no one would want to repeat that experience. After all of the agony and bitterness, not to mention the political losses on both sides, you would expect that more candidates might try to appeal to the sensible middle of the political spectrum. You would expect them to duplicate the "no drama" approach to campaigning; after all, that was what some 40% of us found appealing about the last winner.
Instead, the GOP has denied reality at every opportunity, has ramped up the viciousness of their rhetoric, and seems to have bought into their own alternate-history view in a way that even the 2004 Democrats - the "anyone but Bush" crowd - did not do. The Democrats at least had legitimate complaints against Bush - I've documented my reasoning behind that opinion in this blog before.
I'm not convinced that the Republicans have such legitimate complaints about President Obama.
He has largely accomplished things that the GOP insisted they would do; from taking down bin Laden and Ghaddafi, to pulling out of Iraq in an "honorable" way (to use the word the administration uses). His domestic agenda has pushed through a lot of Republican ideas - to the chagrin of his Democratic supporters - only to have those ideas roundly rejected by the GOP and declared by their PR arm to be part of his alleged Socialist Plot to Take Over the World. The GOP seems universally convinced that the rest of us believe what they believe about President Obama - and what they believe is on 24/7 display on FOX news networks.
Watching the current crop of candidates deny science, deny economic reality (really, guys? Trickle down - still?), and insist that God is leading them to save us from the Gays, Foreigners, Communists, and Atheists has been occasionally entertaining, but it's still depressing to think that this is the best an established political entity can produce.
Then again, they may have a point.
After all is said and done, God may really WANT some of these morons in charge of our government. Remember - this is the same God that allegedly designed the camel and the platypus.