Published May 15, 2012
“You can be stylish and powerful, too. That's Michelle’s advice.”
-- President Obama telling graduates to temper but preserve their interest in clothing during his commencement address at Barnard College, a women-only college of New York’s Columbia University.
It has taken months of bad news, but Democrats increasingly believe that President Obama might just lose his re-election bid.
The latest wake-up call comes in the form of a New York Times/CBS poll showing Republican Mitt Romney in the lead not just among registered voters overall, but with women and independents.
The Times/CBS survey is unique in that the pollsters called back the same phone numbers they had a month before. In April, Obama and Romney were dead even. Now, Romney leads by 3 points overall. That’s still within the margin of error -- a statistical tie.
But the shifts with women, moderates and independents are all statistically significant. Obama lost 5 points with each of those demographics.
Team Obama has for months been warning Democrats not to be overconfident and warning of a close election, with the president increasingly sounding the alarm for donors and activists in recent campaign appearances.
Since the general election season kicked off in earnest in the last week of March, Obama has had an almost unbroken string of losing weeks, starting with his overheard conversation with former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.
There was the back-and-forth with the Supreme Court over his health law, the attack by one of Obama’s advisers on Ann Romney, the GSA Vegas scandal, the hookers in Cartagena and then the baffling case of the gay marriage half-reversion.
Some of the problems were just bad luck (hookers), some were just blunders (hot mic) but much of the rest has been about Obama trying to galvanize his base coalition and secure the massive donations he needs to finance the most expensive campaign in history.
His trip to New York on Monday was the best example yet. Obama delivered a groaner of a speech at Barnard College in which he did everything but shout “girl power” at the end.
And then in an appearance on a left-leaning ladies chat show, ABC’s “The View,” Obama rhapsodized about his partial reversion to previous support for gay marriage in advance of attending a fundraiser with his party’s fundraising shop for “gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender” Democrats that featured Ricky Martin, he of Menudo, bikini briefs and “She Bangs.”
You need money to win Ohio, but it may not be worth the price of all this gay pride to get it. As the Times poll showed, a huge majority believe Obama’s rhetorical reversion was about politics, not a personal moral journey. Even those who are fine with gay marriage, may find it unseemly to see Obama waving the rainbow flag so vigorously in pursuit of cash.
While Obama was in New York, he also stopped by to scoop up some money from Wall Streeters, including some private equity folks -- an industry his campaign was simultaneously describing as parasites and vampires.
If you wonder why Obama felt the need to single out JP Morgan Chase and its CEO for praise despite a $2 billion shellacking the firm took on its own investments, fundraisers like these are a big part of the answer.
All of this pandering may be necessary to keep Obama’s campaign dreadnaught moving ahead, but it comes at a cost, especially when so much of it is contradictory or confusing.
Obama believes marriage is a human right regardless of the gender of one’s preferred spouse, but thinks states out to be able to suppress that human right. Okay.
Obama thinks Romney is a vampire, but is happy to take the money of his rival’s fellow bloodsuckers? Gotcha.
David Brooks, a New York Times columnist who is quite taken with Obama, writes in today’s paper that while Americans think Obama is doing a bad job on the economy and that the country is off track, Obama stands a good chance of being re-elected because of his demeanor: an “ESPN” brand of post-modern machismo cool.
When Obama supporters like Brooks make argument like these, they are engaged in willful self-deception.
There has been nothing very cool about the past 7 weeks for Obama. The president has twisted himself into a policy and rhetorical pretzel to win the support and money he needs from the members of the Democratic coalition.
The Times poll tells the tale: Obama’s nuzzling of the base, beseeching of donors and policy contortions have given Romney the chance to start winning over the narrow band of undecided persuadable voters.
If Democrats don’t want to see Obama defeated, they had better suck it up. Obama is not the superman they believe him to be, nor is his campaign the masterwork they have been led to believe.
The president knows how tight a spot he is in. His supporters are just now realizing it.
The Day in Quotes
“See, the question is not whether things will get better -- they always do… The question is whether together, we can muster the will -- in our own lives, in our common institutions, in our politics -- to bring about the changes we need.”
-- President Obama talking about the economy in a commencement address at Barnard College, a women-only college of New York’s Columbia University.
“I’ll ask Michelle when I get home.”
-- President Obama in an interview with the hosts of “The View,” a women-only chat show on ABC, answering comedienne Joy Behar’s question about “the controversial sex book that’s on millions of women’s bedside tables.”
“Well look, first of all, JP Morgan is one of the best managed banks there is. Jamie Dimon the head of it is one of the smartest bankers we got and they still lost $2 billion dollars and counting precisely because they were making bets in these derivative markets.”
-- President Obama in an interview with the hosts of “The View,” a women-only chat show on ABC, praising mega-bank JP Morgan Chase and its CEO but calling for additional financial sector regulations. The firm lost $2 billion of its own money on risky investments.
-- Portion of voters in the latest CBS News/New York Times who thought President Obama’s partial reversion to support for gay marriage last week was “mostly for political reasons.” Twenty-four percent said it was “mostly because he thinks it is right.”
"However, I depart from the president on the state-by-state approach. If you consider this to be a civil right, and I do, I don't think civil rights ought to be left up to a state-by-state approach.”
-- Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., on MSNBC discussing the president’s partial reversion on gay marriage.
“Especially when I come to New York, sometimes people go around and say, ‘I don't know anybody who is not supporting you, Barack.’ I say, ‘You live in Manhattan, man.’”
-- President Obama at a fundraiser hosted by former pop singer Ricky Martin and the Democratic Party’s Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Leadership Council.
“And we’ve done some extremely good things, especially as it relates to the ‘Dreamers,’ to make sure that they’re not taken away in the middle of the night. There’s a lot more that can be done. There’s more the president is going to do administratively. And that should happen fairly quickly.”
-- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in an interview with Spanish-language cable network Univision discussing President Obama’s efforts to implement the failed DREAM Act, a limited amnesty program for certain illegal immigrants, by executive action.
“‘Self-deport?’ What the heck does that mean? I have no doubt Hispanics have been alienated during this campaign. But now there’s an opportunity for Gov. Romney to have a sincere conversation about what we can do and why.”
-- Gov. Susana Martinez, R-N.M., quoted by Newsweek magazine about presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s plan to increase restrictions on illegal immigrants in hopes that they will leave the country voluntarily.
“He promised us the same things he’s promising the United States. And he’ll give you the same thing he gave us. Nothing. He’ll take it all.”
-- Former union steelworker Pat Wells, whose former employer, GST Steel in Kansas City, went bankrupt after a failed turnaround attempt by Romney’s former firm, Bain Capital, in a new television ad from the pro-Obama political action committee, Priorities USA.
“If that’s not the American Dream, I don’t know what is.”
-- A steelworker at Steel Dynamics, a non-union operation in Ft. Wayne, Ind. that Mitt Romney’s former firm, Bain Capital, helped launch and now employs 6,000 workers, appearing in a campaign video for Romney.
-- A former aide to Hillary Clinton in her presidential campaign talking to Buzzfeed about President Obama’s policy at high-dollar fundraisers that guests must surrender their cell phones.
And Now, A Word From Charles
“We're deeply opposed to the militarization of civil society. We have all kinds of aversion to it. This is importing it because it's cheap, easy, silent. [The use of remote-controlled aircraft for domestic surveillance is] something that you can easily deploy. It will be I think the bane of our existence. Stop it here. Stop it now. Strong letter to follow.”
-- Charles Krauthammer on “Special Report with Bret Baier.”
Chris Stirewalt is digital politics editor for Fox News, and his POWER PLAY column appears Monday-Friday on FoxNews.com.