- - Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Trouble in the St. Louis suburbs has rescued President Obama’s vacation. He can play all 18 holes at the country club now, safe in the knowledge that he’s distracting voters from all the scandals, mismanagement and foreign and domestic policies that are the legacy of his administration.

A midlevel bureaucrat at Russia’s Foreign Ministry mocks the United States for the “burning internal problems” in Ferguson, Mo. The barbarians of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, sometimes called the Islamic State and usually known as ISIS, behead an American journalist, a believing Christian named James Foley, and continue to slaughter Christians throughout Iraq. Mr. Obama’s tepid campaign of “targeted airstrikes” take out a pickup truck here and a checkpoint shack there, but strikes no fear in the savage heart. All the ISIS brutes take away is that this American president traded five hardened al Qaeda terrorists for one U.S. Army deserter.

Everyone in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico is aware of his weakness. They know that if they sneak over the border, Mr. Obama will give them “papers,” and they can stay and even become citizens without the hassle of waiting in line or learning the English language and absorbing American values. These newly minted residents will join the 110 million Americans already on some form of government assistance. They can sign up for Obamaphones, Obamacare and whatever other gifts the White House can think up.

The endless stream of handouts has plunged the nation $17.7 trillion in debt. By the end of his term, Mr. Obama will be responsible for nearly $10 trillion in red ink, more than all 43 of his predecessors combined could spend. Mr. Obama is spending all the economy’s money so there’s little left for the private sector that creates the wealth.

Underemployment grows apace, economic growth is tepid at best. A Money magazine survey finds that two of every three Americans earning under $100,000 — the middle class that Mr. Obama is always talking about — is scared to death about the future.

Calm will return to Missouri long before November, and that’s the real bad news for the White House. The Real Clear Politics polling average finds that 65 percent of Americans think the country is on the wrong track. This will have consequences on Election Day.

The news for the White House seems all bad. The Chicago Cubs, down 20 games in the National League Central Division standings, stand a better chance of winning the World Series than Nancy Pelosi has of returning as speaker of the House. Harry Reid has a considerably better chance of keeping control of the Senate, but polling averages today show voters in Arkansas, Iowa, North Carolina, Montana, Louisiana, South Dakota and West Virginia inclined to send Republicans to take seats now held by Democrats. Sen. Mitch McConnell only needs six of those seven races to go his way and he can move into Mr. Reid’s office. (Mr. McConnell is ahead in his own race as well).

Alaska Republicans decided Tuesday that former state Attorney General Dan Sullivan will challenge Mark Begich, the incumbent, to represent Alaska in the Senate. Mr. Sullivan, a smart conservative, can focus now on showing how Mr. Begich eagerly represents Mr. Obama’s values, not Alaska’s.

Nothing is certain in politics, and Republicans have a well-known gift for retreat and blowing a lead, but the choice of tested candidates like Mr. Sullivan is reassuring to the party. If Mr. Obama wants to keep the Senate in his party’s hands, he should put down his driver and putter and think about how to strengthen the economy and make the world quit laughing at us.