If you hear a distant fanfare this weekend as you huddle around the last barbecue of summer, chances are it is Labor Day signaling the start of the home stretch to the Congressional mid-term elections. From here on out, we’ll see more ads, more posturing, more mudslinging, and great herds of political pundits thundering across the land with all the enthusiasm and grace of buffaloes in a rut. And no one will be more aware of all that than a man whose name is not on any ballot, and yet has everything on the line: President Barack Obama.
This election is about him. If his party loses as big in November as some are predicting, his presidency will go from a quest for change to a scramble for sheer survival.
Granted, he’s hardly had a picnic anyway. Even with his party’s sizeable numerical advantage in the House and Senate, a significant portion of his legislation has wound up watered down worse than the drinks in a dinner theater. Time and again his proposals have been strangled into submission by his fellow Dems, or driven into retreat by the Repubs; who, let’s face it, really didn’t have the votes to do anything if the president’s own party had stood firm. There has always been hope for the Dems that a maturing administration would hone its vote roping skills, but that won’t matter if too few of the faithful are left in the corral.
Polls suggest that Republican voters are wildly enthusiastic about the possibility of effectively, if not technically, ending the Obama presidency less than two years after it began. They’re practically pitching tents outside of voting places to be the first in line. Independents won’t be waiting until after lunch to express their disapproval of the status quo either.
And Dems? They are acting like the GOP two years ago; listless, dispirited. Sure, they hate the idea of a Republican resurrection, but many have been sorely disappointed in the performance of their own party and its president. Still, if they don’t get over that ennui in the coming weeks, they’ll have a lot more to be upset about soon.
And the president? If his party crashes, I actually think he may not even seek re-election. No kidding. But before we get to that, let’s see how the autumn leaves fly.
– CNN’s Tom Foreman is a regular on “AC360°”/www.ac360.com and “Campbell Brown: No Bias, No Bull.”
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