‘At this rate, Obama won’t be re-elected’

James Taranto, the usually witty conservative writer who’s fallen victim the last few years to a bad case of ODS (Obama Derangement Syndrome), has been writing a lot lately about Obama’s chances for re-election. According to Taranto, a 46 percent approval rating means, “At this rate, Obama won’t be re-elected, and the election won’t be close, but at least it won’t be a total landslide like 1980.”

A couple of weeks ago, Taranto had this to say:

And although things could turn around in the next 12½ months, right now everything seems to be going badly for Obama. His current taxpayer-funded campaign trip to Virginia and North Carolina reflects a calculation, reported last month by the New York Times and noted here, that “Ohio and other industrial states” are trending Republican. As a result, the Times reported, Obama planned to focus on swing states in the South, as well as Western ones like Colorado and Nevada.

It is true that, ordinarily, a president seeking re-election with unemployment stubbornly stuck at 9 percent or more and an approval rating of less than 50 percent would be considered to be in serious trouble. Obama should face a very tough election battle next year if history is any guide.

But then you take a look at the collection of misfits running for the Republican nomination, and you have to ask the question that Taranto so far hasn’t: Which one of these candidates could possibly defeat Barack Obama?

I think it’s safe to write off Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Michelle Bachmann and Ron Paul. Who does that leave?

Rick Perry: Forgetting that we’ve already done the incoherent Texan in the White House, Perry has taken too many unacceptable positions to win over the rabid Republican base. He wants to treat the children of illegal immigrants humanely, for instance. He wanted to inoculate young girls against a sexually transmitted disease. Not to mention, he’s come across as either disjointed or drugged in recent Republican debates. His frontrunner days are almost certainly gone for good.

Herman Cain: Inexplicably, the current frontrunner, even though he seems proud of his foreign policy ignorance, doesn’t appear to have real campaign organizations on the ground, can’t get his story straight on his position on abortion and, well, may have had a couple of employees paid off not to pursue sexual harassment charges against him when he was head of the National Restaurant Association. If Cain overcomes all that to actually win the nomination, who really thinks he could defeat Obama?

Jon Huntsman: The former ambassador to China is the GOP’s most serious candidate, and, as a result, among the least likely to survive the primary process. He not only worked for Obama but once had something nice to say about him. He doesn’t deny the existence of global warming. He once supported Obamacare (and then lied about that support). ThinkProgress put together a lengthy – and for the Republican base, damning – list of Huntman’s progressive positions: He thought the stimulus package was too small and included too many tax cuts; he supported the cap-and-trade bill; he supports a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants; he supports civil unions for gays. The only way this guy could make it through the primaries would be to repudiate everything he’s ever stood for. And who wants to vote for a guy who would do that? Which brings us to …

Mitt Romney: George Will nailed Romney’s major weakness in his most recent column: He lacks “the courage of his absence of convictions.”

Romney, supposedly the Republican most electable next November, is a recidivist reviser of his principles who is not only becoming less electable; he might damage GOP chances of capturing the Senate.

Romney has flipped on every position imaginable – a necessity for a liberal Republican from the Northeast to have a hope to win the 2012 Republican primary. But he has gone about it in such a mushy fashion that it’s become clear to everyone that Romney’s only guiding principle is the desire to win: “I’m running for office, for pete’s sake.” He’s even managed the technically difficult “flip-flop-flip.” John Kerry was crucified for “being for it before he was against it.” What could the Obama campaign do to Romney for “being for it before he was against it before he was for it”?

So, here’s the deal, Mr. Taranto: Before Obama can lose – even with the approval numbers he’s looking at – Republicans have to have a candidate who can win. Is there one in the current field? I sure don’t see it.

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