Peggy Noonan writing in today's Wall St. Journal:
The disaster in the Gulf may well spell the political end of the president and his administration, and that is no cause for joy. It's not good to have a president in this position—weakened, polarizing and lacking broad public support—less than halfway through his term. That it is his fault is no comfort. It is not good for the stability of the world, or its safety, that the leader of "the indispensable nation" be so weakened. I never until the past 10 years understood the almost moral imperative that an American president maintain a high standing in the eyes of his countrymen.
But Republicans should beware, and even mute their mischief. We're in the middle of an actual disaster. When they win back the presidency, they'll probably get the big California earthquake. And they'll probably blow it. Because, ironically enough, of a hard core of truth within their own philosophy: when you ask a government far away in Washington to handle everything, it will handle nothing well.
Believe it. We take no pleasure in a weakened American Presidency. It's bad for us, not good for our allies and only incentivizes the ill behavior of the globe's bad actors.
Here's what we are trying to wrap our brain around, however: The hyper-power he has exerted here domestically is in stark contrast to the apologetic and submissive weakness he has exhibited abroad. But when we really did need it here domestically - when we needed the laser-like focus his administration displayed in the Chrysler and General Motors bankruptcy cramdowns and the brute "by any means necessary" force employed by his people with respect to healthcare legislation no one wanted, the President in most respects voted "present".
The one cause everyone could get behind, the one thing everyone knew we had to do something about and where sins of commission would certainly be forgiven over those of omission, our federal government, headed by the Commander-in-Chief, phoned it in.
After just yesterday, where we weren't willing to go "Katrina" on the President are we changing our minds? We certainly did not want to jump on the bandwagon initially and were willing to give the President and the administration the benefit of the doubt. More facts are coming out, however, and they are leaving many, as yet, unanswered questions and none of them seem to be favoring the President.
The problem with a "recovery" of the Obama presidency, as Noonan alludes, is his standing legislative legacy. Should the top kill prove to be 100% effective, we will wake up tomorrow and we will still be stuck with ObamaCare which has actually been growing in unpopularity since its passage. And should a biblical miracle occur tomorrow where the spill simply evaporates into thin air sparing the Gulf Coast from an ecological disaster, we will still be facing a 10% unemployment rate and a still-struggling economy because his administration chose to expend political capital and precious time on unpopular legislation rather than figuring out how best to just stay the hell out of the way to allow the economy to unwind and then rev back up as quickly as possible.
These are issues that have counted most heavily against his polling numbers and they aren't going away.
The reality of the situation now is, we will wake up tomorrow with a 10% unemployment rate, a crappy economy, pending nanny-state legislation with higher taxes and anti-growth consequences and still the very real possibility of an evolving, years-long ecological and economic meltdown in the Gulf.