There’s this thing called conventional wisdom that is supposed to guide us like bread crumbs when we’ve lost our way. But if you’re looking to use it to help figure out what’s going to happen politically over the next year, you’re out of luck. Everything has been turned on its head. Nothing makes sense.
The prime example of this is Herman Cain. We’re still absorbing the graphic allegations leveled against him yesterday by Sharon Bialek. This morning, the Washington Examiner has a story from a fifth woman about Cain asking her to help him snag a dinner date with an audience member after a 2002 speech in Egypt sponsored by USAID.
To his poor handling of this entire situation, add Cain’s ham-handed forays into policy — foreign and domestic — and there’s no way he should be at the top of the polls. But he is. The Post/ABC News poll released Friday (after reports of two claims alleging sexual harassment by Cain, but before more allegations came forward) showed an increase in his support (23 percent), putting him in a statistical tie with Mitt Romney (24 percent).
The GOP’s nominating tradition is that the guy who lost last time gets it when he runs again. That’s what happened with Sen. John McCain (lost out in 2000, won it in 2008), George H.W. Bush (lost out in 1980, won it in 1988) and Ronald Reagan (lost out in 1976, won it in 1980). So it would stand to reason that Romney, who lost out in 2008, would be on a path to win it in 2012. But he’s not.
The former governor of Massachusetts has had to suffer the indignity of watching the likes of Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, Sarah Palin, Chris Christie, Mitch Daniels, Haley Barbour, Paul Ryan and Cain (did I leave anyone out?) ascend, bow out and/or implode while his own support sits mired in the mid-20s. If you want to see just how deep the antipathy towards Romney is just read “Mitt Romney as nominee: Conservatism dies and Obama wins,” a blistering piece by Erick Erickson of the Red State blog.
Mitt Romney, on the other hand, is a man devoid of any principles other than getting himself elected. As much as the American public does not like Barack Obama, they loath a man so fueled with ambition that he will say or do anything to get himself elected. Mitt Romney is that man.
I’ve been reading the 200 pages of single spaced opposition research from the John McCain campaign on Mitt Romney. There is no issue I can find on which Mitt Romney has not taken both sides. He is neither liberal nor conservative. He is simply unprincipled. The man has no core beliefs other than in himself. You want him to be tough? He’ll be tough. You want him to be sensitive? He’ll be sensitive. You want him to be for killing the unborn? He’ll go all in on abortion rights until he wants to run for an office where it is not in his advantage.
Along the way, he’ll drop lots of coin to grease the skids for himself. Mitt Romney is the silly putty of politicians — press on him real hard and he’ll take on whatever image you press into him until the next group starts pressing.
And then there’s President Obama. He’s facing a world of hurt as an incumbent. According to the latest Post-ABC News poll, “About three-quarters see the country as seriously off-track and nearly everyone sees the economy in bad shape.” The Wall Street Journal-NBC News poll released yesterday revealed the same results. “Nearly three-quarters of respondents believe the nation is headed in the wrong direction; just 25 percent think the U.S. economy will improve in the next 12 months; and a solid majority says the country is experiencing the start of a long-term decline.” Obama’s handling of the economy got a thumbs down from 57 percent of respondents to the NBC poll.
Given the dark mood of the country, it defies logic that Obama’s approval rating is hitting at 44 percent, 46 percent, 47 percent. What’s even more astounding is that the latest NBC-Wall Street Journal poll shows the president beating Romney (49 percent to 43 percent), Cain (53 percent to 38 percent) and a generic “Republican candidate” (45 percent to 42 percent).
While none of this makes sense today, we’ll hopefully have a definitive answer for what it all means 52 weeks from today. That’s Election Day, folks. Please make a note of it.