Thursday, September 24, 2009

There are a number of ways a President loses popular support...

One such way is when the President tries to advance policies that lack popular support due to public perception that such legislation would negatively affect them. There is no faster way to lose support than to be seen as an instrument of harm rather than good.

Another is when the President tries to advance policies that lack public support, not so much because the public is opposed to the particular policy, but rather due to the public feeling that other - more important - issues should command the President's time and attention.

A twist of the previous point is when the President advances an idealistic position that the public feels shows the President as being dangerously idealistic and not grounded in reality.

Another way of losing support is for the President to be seen as making America look bad. Americans like to feel proud of their country and they don't like anyone - whether foreign or domestic - who makes fun of America or portrays America as somehow being deficient... or even worse, claims America is responsible for the world's problems.

And yet another way of losing support is having the public think the President as having an undesirable personality trait, such as being untruthful, corrupt, excessively arrogant or vain or simply not being a nice person. People like to like their Presidents (the 'would you like to have a beer with the President?') and it's harder to like a President if you don't like him as a person.

It is important for a President's opponents to not rest their entire strategy on a single plank.. or, for that matter, on a single issue. Opponents need to fight across the board: they need to convince the public that the President is failing them on each of the above points.

And if and when opponents can do so... it is but a matter of time before the President has upside down approval ratings and is vulnerable to defeat. It is important to remember that no matter how appealing a challenger might be, the public isn't going to deny re-election to a President who hasn't disappointed them... so Job #1 for the opposition is to keep up a steady drumbeat of how the President is failing the public.

It shouldn't be hard for the Republicans to make the case about Obama. Whether it is his pushing a health insurance package that most people feel will negatively affect them, to spending his time apologizing for America, to signing on to the dangerously call to rid the world of nuclear weapons, Obama has given his opponents more than enough ammo to (figuratively) kill his Presidency.

It is only a question of whether the GOP can effectively take advantage of the gifts Obama is giving them. I have my doubts, the GOP isn't known for its tactical proficiency... but I am more than willing to be shown that they're up to the task.