Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Obama Slide Continues, Evan Bayh is Out and No Democrat is Safe, No Courage on Gays in the Military

First, loyal reader, let me apologize for the absences of posts for the past week and a half. I was traveling on business, followed by some great R&R in Florida, which included a trip down to Daytona for the 500 (where Sarah Palin briefly spoke, incidentally.)

First order of business....I had not updated my Presidential Approval tracking charts in this space on several weeks, so let me give you the latest updates.

Since January 12th (my last publication of these charts), the President has moved both down and up in approval, but the trend is definitely still downward. He crossed a psychologically significant threshold on February 7th and 8th when his disapproves exceeded his approves for the first time in his Presidency. He has since crossed back into narrowly positive territory, but it would be hard to read his current numbers as good for being only 13 months into his Presidency.

His monthly numbers (which smooth out the bumps in daily polling) show a modest decline in January. This marks 12 out of 13 months in his Presidency where his numbers have declined, with September 2008 being flat. He has yet to post an approval increase in any month. February is on trend to post decline number 13.

Evan Bayh Retiring -- Another Lean GOP Pick-Up
The title above pretty well captures my thoughts -- with Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) retiring after this term, this is another seat that you would have to favor the GOP to win. Bayh was highly popular in a red-leaning state (although Obama won Indiana in 2008, it was by a 7 point closer margin than the vote as a whole and John Kerry lost by a huge margin in 2004) and the Democrats are now without a candidate and unlikely to find one with much star power. Seems like every week these days brings more bad news for the Democrats 2008 prospects. The possibility of a GOP pick-up of the Senate has gone from unfathomable to far-fetched to entirely possible. It is still more likely than not that the DEMs will retain at least the 48+2 seats they would need to hold control, but the GOP scenarios for victory continue to become more plausible.

On substance, Bayh's departure was essentially a shot at both sides on capital hill. It is frankly rare to hear a retirement announcement so candid. He forwent the usual nonsense about wanting to spend more time with his family and instead ripped into the excessive lack of bipartisanship on both sides of the aisle and took shots at what he views as misaligned priorities in the Democratic party.

Some on the left have simply said "good riddance" to the moderate Indianan, who was never on board with pushing an economically liberal agenda. But the loss of any moderate is a sad day in my book. The Democratic Party needs centrists who will check the Pelosi wing of the party with some populist common sense. And moderates seem to be becoming more and more rare on both sides of the aisle, which probably has contributed to the collapse in bipartisanship more than anything else.

Gays in the Military -- An Absence of Leadership
The senior officiers in the military are united...it is time to allow openly gay members of the military to serve without fear of retribution. Dick Cheney is on board. The Israeli Army -- a fiercely effective force from what is hardly a socially liberal company, has made this policy work for over a decade now. Three quarters of Americans rightly support changing the policy.

But there is no courage. Shame on John McCain for reneging on his pledge 10 years ago to support a policy change when senior military officials supported the change. But far more important, shame on President Obama for not taking action. Proposing that Congress change the law is well and good, but there is no reason for the President to hide under Congressional cover. He could stop prosecutions of gays tomorrow by executive order. Don't gays deserve the same consideration as medical marijuana users? How many more Arabic translators do we need to fire because of this outdated policy? How about a little leadership, Mr. President?

I'll update my Senate race projections in full in my next blog.

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