Barring a major development, this will be my last new (as opposed to recycled) post of 2011, and I thought I would go out with a bang as well as a bit of back patting.
While the Democrats and President Obama have not always covered themselves in glory, the bang is a one-word description of the historic mess that the Republican Party has made of things during the year. This is a toxic cocktail of disdain for the middle class and an open loathing of minorities, seniors, the poor and those in ill health who cannot afford health insurance. It is reflected in the words and deeds of the party's congressional leaders and most of the presidential wannabes as they slug it out in the few remaining days before the Iowa caucuses.
The pat on the back is because I have predicted early and often that despite a punk economy, the 2012 election would be Barack Obama's to lose. This is because while the GOP may be stuck on stupid, most Americans are not.
These realities are reflected in the latest CNN poll which reveals that Obama's approval rating has rebounded to a respectable 49 percent, the highest since it hit 54 percent as after he ordered that the Al Qaeda chief be taken out, while voters' approval of the occupants of the Republican clown car has plummeted from 49 to 43 percent. Worst yet for the GOP, voters by a 50 to 31 percent margin say they have more confidence in the president than in congressional Republicans to handle the major issues facing the country. Obama held a much narrower 44to 39 percent margin in March.
And, for what it's worth, the poll indicates that Obama remains personally popular, with three-quarters of respondents saying they approve of him as a person.
* * * * *There was a major earthquake yesterday on the editorial page of Rupert Murdoch's Wall Street Journal, which is the closest thing to a war room for Obama-hating conservatives.
It is an indication of how badly the Republican Party has screwed up that the Journal, in belaboring the obvious, is noting that it's bad politics to raise taxes on 160 million workers and cut off jobless benefits to three million idled workers going into a presidential election year, would publish these words:
"The GOP leaders have somehow managed the remarkable feat of being blamed for opposing a one-year extension of a tax holiday that they are surely going to pass. This is no easy double play.
"Republicans have also achieved the small miracle of letting Mr. Obama position himself as an election-year tax cutter, although he's spent most of his Presidency promoting tax increases and he would hit the economy with one of the largest tax increases ever in 2013. This should be impossible."
* * * * *With the Iowa caucuses less than two weeks away, the Republican establishment is in open panic. This is because barring a miracle, and a political party so disdainful of everyone except the rich -- oh, and the smell of its own hole -- cannot expect anything approaching a miracle, although Republicans are certain to find coal in their Christmas stockings.
A miracle in Iowa for the party establishment would be a Mitt Romney victory, which is counter intuitive considering that he has consistently polled behind the Republican Flavor of the Moment, be it Donald Trump, Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich and now Ron Paul, and is widely viewed as a moderate in conservative's clothing.
While the darling of many Republicans, Paul brings almost as many skeletons to the table as Gingrich.
At a time when the global economy overall is outperforming the American economy, Paul wants the U.S. to withdraw from many world affairs. He is chockablock with other nutty ideas (and some very good ones that will make conservatives blow their stacks like legalizing marijuana and prostitution and ending aid to the thuggish Netanyahu regime in Israel).
Paul is against war, which conservatives are for, and he is against torture, which conservatives heart, and it is difficult to image the GOP walking the plank by nominating a candidate who published a racist newsletter for years and has deep associations with the lunatic fringe far right.
Even a victory in Iowa would not give Paul enough of a bump to win the following week in New Hampshire, where Romney has campaigned endlessly, but if the two contenders trade primary victories well into 2012 the chances of a dread brokered nominating convention grow.
Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of guys. You too, Michele.