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Is Obama the Latest Teflon Man?

The president's approval numbers remain basically unchanged despite the scandals.

by
Rich Baehr

Bio

May 22, 2013 - 10:10 am
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The Washington Post summary of the initial public reaction to the various scandals confirms this:

People are now far more apt to see the federal government as threatening, rather than protecting, the rights of average Americans.

The IRS scandal, in particular, has touched a nerve with the public. Nearly three-quarters of Americans say the tax agency’s decision to target conservative groups was inappropriate, with most saying they feel “strongly” that it was wrong. A majority, 56 percent, see the IRS action as a deliberate effort to harass these groups; far fewer, 31 percent, describe it as an administrative mistake.

Condemnation of the IRS action cuts across party lines, with big majorities of Republicans, Democrats, and independents alike deeming it inappropriate. But although most Republicans and independents critical of the IRS activity consider it illegal, Democrats are more apt to view the targeting of the groups as “inappropriate but not illegal.”

Several conservative writers, Kimberley Strassel and Jonah Goldberg among them, have made a strong case that even if the president did not give direct instructions to the IRS agents to misbehave, he set the tone for the agents’ activities with his public condemnation of the Tea Party and their taking advantage of the tax code to promote political activities. So far, the public does not seem to have made the same link.

One other threat to the president is the skepticism about big government that may emerge from the various scandals, particularly the IRS targeting. The Affordable Care Act was already a political loser, and many Democrats have been fearful of the political impact in 2014 of a bungled implementation of the health care exchanges. Several of the retiring Democratic senators who were intimately involved in crafting the overly complex, potentially unworkable bill, such as Jay Rockefeller and Max Baucus, have announced their retirements. Rockefeller and Baucus have predicted a disastrous start for the first full implementation year of the legislation in 2014.

Now a connection has been made between the legislation and the IRS, an agency that will be at the heart of collecting taxes for those who do not sign up with the new state exchanges, as well as monitoring individuals’ health insurance decisions.  The fact that the former director of the tax-exempt organizations unit at the IRS will now run the Obamacare activities at the IRS  was not something the administration expected to blow back in their faces, but it has.

The Watergate scandal in 1972-1974 robbed the Nixon White House of the mandate it thought it had won with its 49 state victory — an 18 million and 23% popular vote margin in 1972.  By 1976, a little known peanut farmer from southern Georgia was elected president for the Democrats, largely on a clean-government, “I will never lie to you” platform. The supposed  Republican lock on the Electoral College was broken and Democrats won big majorities in Congress.

The 2012 election led to much GOP and conservative soul searching on whether the country’s rapid demographic changes  doomed the party to permanent minority status. This doom and gloom existed despite  far less of a mandate for Obama in his second-term victory than Nixon achieved — 26 states carried, and a 5 million (4%) popular vote margin.  Of course, the GOP also retained control of the House, 30 governorships, and a majority of state legislative seats.

The impact of the scandals is likely to be a shift in the political momentum heading towards 2014. The GOP, the Tea Party, and conservatives have a spring in their step and this may lead to higher turnout in the midterms. Democrats are on the defensive.

A lot has changed in six months regardless of Obama’s approval numbers.

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Richard A. Baehr is the co-founder and chief political correspondent for the American Thinker. For his day job, he has been a health care consultant for many years doing planning and financial analyses for providers.

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Top Rated Comments   
At least one demographic will forgive anything Obama does, up to and including a devastating nuclear exchange with the Russians. Anything he does, anything he's accused of, will be ascribed to his scheming enemies and a whole "system" that's "against him."

Yep, the fix is in. He'll have some rough weather for the next 3.5 years, but he'll sail clear in the end. As the article predicts, however, he will leave quite a few shipwrecks and floating bodies behind him.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
Wouldn't it be poetic justice if, like another Chicago gangster, Obama was taken down by the IRS?
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
Of course the polls don't move.
It took forty years to destroy schools, universities, and the media and the result is a consistent majority of morons.

Nations have the government they deserve, in the free world.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (39)
All Comments   (39)
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Talk about Teflon. Just before the election Obama got bailed out by Hurricane Sandy. Now he has been bailed out again by the OK killer tornado.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
None so blind as those who WILL NOT see.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
The low information zealots again prove their usefulness to this administration.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
Teflon man?

Only half right.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
Wait till the monopoly money that the Fed Reserve is printing loses all it's value, then s... will hit the fan. The nation is bankrupt and the Administration operates by trying to hide the truth about everything! Give him enough rope...
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
Nonsense. Do us a favor and ignore Nate Silver. He got lucky once, and has been a bust since.

Obama's numbers have been coming down. Everyone has him under 50%, now, and most with higher disapproval.

Historically, these things take time. Even with Watergate ongoing, Nixon won in a landslide, but he was toast a year later.

The best thing about these scandals, is that it is making it impossible right now for Obama to push his agenda. Gun control? Fuggedaboutit. He's at the beginning of his second term, and is already a lame duck.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
I have been watching the various polls which make up the RCP average. A few of the more prominent ones have swung from > +4 to < -4, which is at least an 8 point swing in the last few days. The average itself is only .3% in his favor today. Maybe the worm has turned, although he will no doubt milk the OK tornado for all it's worth - a temporary improvement in his numbers, at best.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
Remember that when Reagan was called Teflon the media was doing everything in their power to destroy him. The difference now, the media is playing dishwasher, eager to scrub away all the debris in the pan. No Teflon coating, unless the media is the Teflon.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
Let me lend them a Brillo pad.....
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
Teflon Man? Well .... you got the first word right.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
What?
Is teflon now a new Democrat definition of poop?
Seniors in my rest home want to know.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
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