A Rising Tide
When Windsor Castle was nearly destroyed in a fire in 1992, Queen Elizabeth famously proclaimed that year as an “Annus Horribilis” for the royal family. Having endured all manner of public scandal and decreasing favorability among her British subjects, it was no wonder that the only thing left to do was to give a name to the string of bad luck that had befallen the Windsors that “horrible year” and which culminated in the near destruction of the house that bore their name.
On this side of the Atlantic, we have a similar situation for a conflicted President who is even beginning to see members of his own party defect (e.g. former Democratic congressman Artur Davis) amid a spectacular unraveling of policy and ideology. Events which would aptly be described in the same terms as the Queen of England stated two decades ago. It is hard to judge the scale of this massive meltdown at such a close distance in time but even from within the unfolding history occurring day to day, one is capable of visualizing the disparate shards of an Obama Presidency which appears to be cracking like a fine porcelain vase beneath the weight of a granite boulder.
No amount of parsing, manipulation of words or appeals to change the status quo can stem the overwhelming weight of dismal jobs growth reports, of declining manufacturing orders, of a rising unemployment rate, of scandals involving high level leaks at the White House and a declining presidential approval level now in the low 40 percent range. President Obama appears to be a deer caught in the headlights of the sovereign debt crisis unfolding in Europe while his Keynesian policies of massive government spending are disproven almost daily in the reports from Greece, Spain and Italy. Even at home, failed projects like Solyndra and his budget proposal, which was unable to garner a single vote on either side of the aisle, are beginning to leave the distinct air of failure in the halls of power.
At home, his Attorney General, Eric Holder, seems to be the only individual with an even more attenuated grasp of the public sentiment and mood surrounding him. In a series of federal challenges to States’ rights, Holder has found himself in the difficult position of actually suing states like Arizona and Florida against enforcing federal laws on illegal immigration and illegal voting. Supreme Court decisions loom over these issues which appear to be a hard sell on the part of the Attorney General’s office given the fact that the laws being enforced are practically xeroxed copies of the federal statutes already prescribed. Holder’s ill conceived and failed attempts to bestow civilian trials on international terrorists continue to weigh heavily on his term as Attorney General while confidence in his effectiveness is evaporating faster than a cup of dry ice at Guantanamo Bay. What’s more, Holder has managed to embroil the President knowingly or unwittingly in a growing scandal involving gun running across the Mexican border while garnering a vote of censure by Congress on the operation “Fast and Furious” debacle.
The President has now decided to go all in with an Executive Privilege assertion on requested papers which may prove to be his Nixonian moment in this fateful political year. The question now becomes: what did the President and the Attorney General know about sending assault weapons across the border to drug cartels and when exactly did they know it?
By the time this column is printed we will have a pretty clear idea of where this Presidency is headed in November. For when the Justices of the Supreme Court rule on the constitutionality of his signature healthcare legislation, it will have the impact of a sledge hammer on that already overburdened porcelain vase, if they were to rule the law unconstitutional.
I believe they will. What the American people will be faced with is a choice between an administration attempting to hold its shattered core principles together or the option, with Mitt Romney, to double back and start on a new footing both economically and ideologically.
Trends from Wisconsin to Florida show the makings of a groundswell against a second term. Looking back on June 2012, President Obama may well consider this month to be his political Iunius Horribilis (Horrible June).