It’s mushroom cloud after mushroom cloud for President Obama.
We’ll never see the internal polls, but the externals are awful: Down 8 percent to challenger Mitt Romney in the latest poll, with fewer than 180 days; disillusioned college kids, independents and the white working-class fleeing in droves. Even the barber-shops boys are mocking their Man. Makes sense that in Chicagoland, Obama Central, the internals they’re seeing are even worse.
Which explains this past week. Joe “Blunderbuss” Biden on May 6 blurts out that he’s totally cool with gays marrying. Mushroom cloud. Release the hounds: The vice president is at odds with the president. Monday, the White House slow-plays it (with spokesman Jay “Talking Points” Carney finally fully filling his role as Chief Buffoon). Tuesday, a fierce press corps demanding answers (ABC’s Jake Tapper gets his Underoos all in a wad.) Chief Buffoon repeating over and over, no change — until there’s a change. Oh, and North Carolina just happens to be busy voting down gay marriage.
Wednesday, the president suddenly announces a sit-down (with a friendly reporter, of course), and, oh boy, he’s gotta answer the gay marriage question now! (Or Jake will really come at him.) The president does! He’s for it! (But let the states decide — bold new territory, except former Vice President Dick Cheney said the same thing three years ago.) The Associated Press says president has set a “world precedent.” And Thursday, off to Hollywood to party at George Clooney’s house (tears of joy wept for the smartest president ever). At the weekend, Mr. Obama and Mr. Biden celebrate with a round of golf.
The whole thing was (say it with me) — a setup. Send Joe out — he’s a goof, he might misspeak, who knows? — and then play it for all its worth. Work it for the week — the press will go along. Jobs? The economy? Please. We’ve got to get to the bottom of this gay marriage thing!
But even that bodes ill: The big brains on the yellow couches in the Oval Office are busy coming up with ways to distract from the economy by pandering to the most liberal people in America. They must’ve concluded they don’t have much else. Can they do it every week, for the next six months? Panic. Desperation.
By the way, why is it that when a Republican changes his mind, based on life experience, learned wisdom, he’s a “flip-flopper,” but when a Democrat changes his mind — opposes gay marriage, as Mr. Obama did, then takes no stance (politics), then suddenly supports it — he has “evolved”? You can look it up: the president has completely flip-flopped; still, it’s an “evolution,” according to the MSM.
Which brings us back to Wednesday, when ABC led the evening newscast with — no, not Mr. Obama’s flip-flop, but a report that Mr. Romney was mean to a kid 48 years ago when he was at boarding school. Seems the kid looked different — long blond hair — and Mitt and the boys dropped him, sheared the locks. Sure, a prank — or was Mr. Romney a homophobe, persecuting what The Washington Post said was a “presumed” gay student?
Now, Team Obama is known for sifting through the sordid pasts of every candidate it has faced: In fact, it’s the only way he won two races in Illinois, one for the Statehouse, one for U.S. senator. But here, in May, via The Washington Post, are they really going through the high school days of their coming opponent? Mr. Obama was fond of blowing a doob in college, but that’s not an issue. Mitt being mean to another boy nearly five decades ago? Smacks of desperation.
And it’s only May. Mr. Obama is already behind — well behind, according to the most accurate pollster from 2008 — and panicking. Worse, the enthusiasm of the base is dwindling. Kicking off his 2012 campaign, Mr. Obama played to empty seats in Ohio. What was a revolutionary movement four years ago is now just another callow political campaign, with the candidate willing to say whatever it takes to win supporters. Worse, the kids who supported him last time are bored.
The gay marriage move will, eventually, prove to be a major miscalculation. Trying to shore up the liberal and college vote — pushing the college-loan thing apparently was not enough — Mr. Obama just bolstered his opponent among Christians: Even as a Mormon, he might line up better with Christians who oppose gay marriage. There goes North Carolina, and maybe Virginia, too. Sure, Hollywood is more jazzed, but it will turn out not to be worth it: He just lost more votes than he gained.
However it plays out, the panic and desperation of Team Obama is palpable. And for the incumbent president to be forced to pander so cravenly to his base less than six months from Election Day: They definitely know something we don’t yet know — and it isn’t good.
• Joseph Curl covered the White House and politics for a decade for The Washington Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.