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Afghanistan + The Economy + Health Care Reform = this:
Only 41% of those surveyed Tuesday through Sunday approved of the way Obama is handling his job, his lowest rating in the USA TODAY/Gallup Poll since he took office in January 2009. In Gallup’s separate daily tracking poll, his approval was at 45% Monday.
Yes, polling trends can, and almost surely will, change between now and the fall elections, but the general outlook for Democrats in the midterms is pretty grim. Afghanistan is a disaster and unlikely to turn around significantly. Obama and the Democrats can whine all they want about how they inherited a bad economy—it’s true, they did—but the unemployment rate is a scandal and the president can’t blame George W. Bush forever.
It remains to be seen whether the health-care reform package will actually make life better for most Americans—I have my doubts—but it surely won’t have done so by the fall.
The only hope for Democrats is that generic polling data about party preferences suggest no matter how unhappy voters are with congress they tend to vote for incumbents in larger numbers than anyone expects. (Partly because of name recognition, partly because incumbents raise far more money than challengers and can buy more TV ads.)
“The only way I can lose this election is if I’m caught in bed with either a dead girl or a live boy,” Edwin Edwards, the former governor of Louisiana, once said about his electoral prospects. Edwards won in a landslide, despite his notorious reputation for corruption.
If the candidates can stay out of those beds, Democrats might not lose as many seats as expected this fall. But it’s likely to be ugly either way.
More from Ken Silverstein:
Perspective — October 23, 2013, 8:00 am
How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy
Postcard — October 16, 2013, 8:00 am
A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”