An Honest Question For Wehner Fallacy Advocates

by Jonathan Chait | July 29, 2010

Noemie Emery's cover story in the Weekly Standard, "Neither Roosevelt Nor Reagan," is basically one long exposition of the Wehner Fallacy. President Obama has failed, she writes, because he pursued an unpopular agenda that cost him his popularity. Had he hewed to the center he could have built an enduring majority but instead he fell victim to liberal hubris.

Now, we've heard this all a thousand times. Never mind that it's nearly impossible to find an example of a president who maintains popularity amidst an economic free-fall. Never mind that, up to this point, Obama actually is Reagan:

And never mind that Obama has already won numerous achievements of massive scale, and that it's impossible to know what he will accomplish in his remaining two and a half or six and a half years.

Forget all those things and assume that the Wehner Fallacy is utterly correct: Obama is a failed president, doomed to endure crushing defeat in 2010 and 2012 because of his liberal policies. How do you explain the fact that Republicans are even less popular than Obama?

If Obama's approval ratings stem from public opposition to his policies, then why are Republicans considerably less popular? After all, the public, emblemized by the Tea Parties, rejects Obama's big government and wants to repeal health care reform, stop new regulations, and oppose tax increases, right? That's the Republican agenda. But Americans hate the Republicans. Why is that? Is it possible to construct an explanation for this that remains true to their model of American voters as driven by ideological judgments rather than external events?

I understand that I'm dealing with propagandists, not actual analysts, so they prefer to ignore contrary evidence rather than explain it away. But I'm genuinely curious to see how they'd explain this inconvenient fact.

Source URL: http://www.newrepublic.com//blog/jonathan-chait/76652/honest-question-wehner-fallacy-advocates