- - Friday, July 29, 2011

So much for hope and change. With the economy growing worse and worse (see nearby editorial), the grand promises of Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign have faded as the reality of malaise takes hold.

Mr. Obama has vowed to spend $1 billion in advertising dollars to counteract the effect his policies have had on the nation. The GOP’s campaign chief met with The Washington Times on Friday to discuss why that’s not going to work. “I think this [election] is a referendum on Barack Obama,” said Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Reince Priebus. “The people in this country are going to ask themselves a question: ‘Am I better off than I was three or four years ago?’ And the answer is clearly no.”

Candidate Obama’s pledge to go “line by line” through the budget to get the deficit under control has become little more than an inside-the-Beltway joke as his spending levels rival those of an Egyptian pharaoh. Even liberals feel betrayed on a number of pet causes like torture and Guantanamo Bay, and they’re jumping ship. The Pew Research Center for the People & the Press released a survey July 22 that found Republicans were making huge gains among white voters. In 2008, 46 percent of this demographic group sided with the GOP while 44 percent preferred Democrats. Today, the Republican advantage has grown to 13 points, with the biggest gains found among those under the age of 30.

In other words, the young voters who once identified with the youthful, relatively unknown senator from Illinois are having a severe case of buyer’s remorse. The survey showed Republicans also made a small 2 percent gain among black voters, but larger inroads ought to be possible given the astonishing figure that 16.2 percent of blacks can’t find a job in Mr. Obama’s economy — double the figure for whites. “People are hurting,” said Mr. Priebus. “The problem that Obama has is that he has had results of his presidency, and these results are awful and people know it.”

High unemployment, low growth and reckless spending sparked a Tea Party movement demanding real change. Some establishment types in Washington and New York have seen this as a threat. They’ve even taken to deriding Tea Party members as “Hobbits.” When he was leader of the Wisconsin GOP, Mr. Priebus attended and spoke at Tea Party rallies. “I don’t believe the Republican Party or the RNC is in competition with the conservative movement in America,” he explained. “We’re part of the conservative movement in this country.”

As long as the focus remains on the Obama administration’s fiscal policies, conservatives are going to win the spending showdown. Our freedoms, in fact, depend on that victory. “We’re at an almost standstill in Washington debating about what we need to do to increase the credit card yet again because we need to pay our bondholders in China and we can’t possibly default,” Mr. Priebus explained. “This is a little glimpse of what it’s like when you have to surrender a little bit of your sovereignty… because we can’t get spending under control.”

Mr. Obama should be nervous. There’s a focused leader at the helm of the RNC who’s committed to making sure “The One” is a one-termer.