- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 30, 2011

If the presidential election were held today, just about anybody could wipe the floor with Barack Obama. The number of Americans who think “The One” is failing is at an all-time high. According to Gallup daily polling results released Monday, 55 percent now disapprove of the job President Obama is doing. The liberal media, which is in the tank for the first black president, don’t want voters to come to the conclusion that his defeat is inevitable so they’re cooking up mythical roadblocks in the way of a GOP victory.

The most common storyline is that the ideal Republican with the greatest chance of winning isn’t in the race yet. In fact, there’s a media obsession with who’s not in the race. Turn on the TV and the viewer is inundated with tales about New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie jumping in, former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani giving it another go, or former Vice President Dick Cheney throwing his hat into the ring. Last week, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, who was everybody’s favorite noncandidate earlier this year, suggested that Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan would “enrich” the GOP field. As much as reporters look down on former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, they can’t stop prattling about how she would change the primary race and whether she would steal votes from other candidates or they would woo Tea Partyers away from her. Some liberal pundits are even getting over their deep-seated hatred of the Bush dynasty to whisper about the chances of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush making a surprise announcement late in the year.

All the talk about the elusive, best candidate is a sideshow. This distraction allows the media to ignore the extremely talented pool of Republican candidates already in the race and how much more experience they have than Barack did when he was elected in 2008. Polls show that any generic unnamed Republican beats Mr. Obama and, in some cases, handily. By concentrating on how the purportedly most-competitive GOP choices aren’t in the race, the left is diverting attention away from the reality that Mr. Obama is in a heap of trouble. According to Rasmussen Reports, 57 percent favor repeal of Obamacare, the president’s signature accomplishment in office. With fear of a double-dip recession running high, Americans consistently say the economy is their biggest concern. However, according to Rasmussen, only 29 percent of likely voters think Mr. Obama is doing a good or excellent job on economic matters - a new low. That means 71 percent aren’t impressed. Figures like this are a death knell for an incumbent.

Discussion about “the one that got away” is also part of a narrative to claim the Grand Old Party represents a narrow portion of the electorate. When some candidates - especially more liberal ones - don’t join the fray, commentators can talk all the way to the election about how the party is too conservative. “Too bad for Republicans that Rudy didn’t decide to run,” they’ll say with crocodile tears. “He’s what the party needs to appeal to the middle.” Never mind that a majority of Americans agree with the GOP base on bread-and-butter conservative issues ranging from tax cuts to abortion restrictions. In the end, this horse-race chatter won’t matter. Without an uptick in the economy or some major unforeseen event, almost any elephant could trample Mr. Obama next year.

Brett M. Decker is editorial page editor of The Washington Times. He is coauthor of the forthcoming book “Bowing to Beijing” (Regnery, November 2011).