Sunday, February 14, 2016

The Importance of Being Earnestly Popular

In the wake of Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia's sudden death yesterday, one thing has become apparent: Democrats (and many Republicans) haven't yet come to the realization that President Barack Obama has not been the nation's most popular political figure for quite a while.

In a constitutional republic with democratic processes, popularity matters more than a lot of us -- myself included -- would prefer. Popularity is how Ronald Reagan was able to get so much of his agenda enacted despite never having Republican majorities in both houses of Congress.

The fickle winds of popularity made Bill Clinton reverse his longstanding opposition to welfare reform, then secured his re-election, only to see him leave office as a punchline after surviving an impeachment trial.

And for the bulk of Barack Obama's presidency it's been his popularity -- real or presumed -- that has enabled him to steamroll John Boehner and Mitch McConnell (and Paul Ryan) whenever they were forced to contemplate defying him. The glimpses of the man behind the curtain have never overcome their awe at the apparition of Obama, the Great and Powerful.

Right now, Democrats and the media (but I repeat myself), when they're not promoting the preposterous claim that the Senate must rubber-stamp whomever Obama nominates to succeed Scalia on the Court, are claiming that refusal to do so will result in a massive Democrat wave at the polls in November, propelled by indignation at Senate Republicans' shabby treatment of Barack Obama.

Like Donald Trump or hate him (you know I choose the latter), he has at the very least accomplished the reduction of Obama from Most Popular Political Figure Evah!!! The question is whether Washington insiders like McConnell genuinely realize what's happened and deliver on their promise to block Obama's nominees.

If so, the Democrats have a rude awakening ahead.

That would be fun to watch.

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