Checking In On Old Friends

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JONATHAN CHAIT JULY 7, 2011

Checking In On Old Friends

I've been taking a bit of a vacation from enjoying the comic stylings of Peter Wehner, but I decided to check in on the former Bush administration Minister of Propaganda to see if he was still sounding his daily triumphant declarations of the demise of Barack Obama. Turns out he is:

[B]y this point in the Clinton presidency the prospects for Democrats were looking up, and in fact, Clinton was well on his way to winning a comfortable re-election. That doesn’t appear to be the case for Obama, who is turning the Democratic Party into a pre-Clinton party, one characterized by unalloyed liberalism.

It turns out that in almost every respect, Clinton was a more formidable political figure than Obama, and certainly more competent. And as we get closer to 2012, it wouldn’t be surprising to hear Democrats speak longingly of the Clinton Era, as glory days compared to the dangerous, even ruinous, prospects they now face.

Longtime readers of this blog, to the extent that a two-year-old blog can have longtime readers, will not be surprised to learn that Wehner's statements once again bear no relationship to measurable reality. At this point in his presidency (July 1995), Bill Clinton's approval ratings were in the mid-forties, exactly the same as Obama's now.

Was Clinton "well on his way to winning a comfortable re-election"? Well, he did win reelection comfortably. But in the summer of 1995, Clinton was trailing a generic Republican presidential candidate, and running slightly behind Bob Dole in a head-to-head matchup. (Clinton's polling against Dole from June through August of 1995 went, in order, -5, -1, +4, -2, tied.)

Obama currently is running 2.7% ahead of a generic republican, 4.6% ahead of Mitt Romney, and leads by double digits against every other Republican. Obviously, the race is far away. But the claim that Obama is clearly weaker than Clinton bears no relation to reality.

In any case, I look forward to another 16 months of Wehner proclaiming Obama is doomed, doomed to lose reelection, and then either four years of Wehner triumphalism or four years of Wehner proclaiming that Obama is doomed, doomed to go down in history as the worst two-term president ever.

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posted in: jonathan chait, barack obama, bill clinton, bush, peter wehner, democratic party

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