Historians have to go back to Herbert Hoover to find an incumbent president as vulnerable as Barack Obama. The nation isn't quite at the stage where half the population is wearing "Hoover blankets," newspapers wrapped up underneath clothing to stay warm, but we're getting there.
The June Bureau of Labor jobs report showed that only 18,000 new positions had been created, a pitifully low number. Many of them are in the minimum wage sector — fast food and hospitality. Unemployment remains stubbornly high at 9.2 percent. The 3 to 5 million new jobs Obama promised during his campaign are nowhere to be seen.
The economy is Obama's biggest, but not his only, headache. Obama is locked in a nasty debate with Congressional Republicans to raise the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling before August 2 — the date at which Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner claims the U.S. will begin to default on its debt and the president threatens to hold up Social Security checks.
Other massive Obama albatrosses: a $1 trillion failed economic stimulus, successive $1.5 trillion deficits, and Obamacare, which he rammed though Congress and will cost trillions of dollars while adding more than 30 million to America's fastest-growing entitlement program — Medicaid.
If these were Obama's only problems, the $1 billion campaign war chest he plans to amass should be enough to get him re-elected. Unfortunately for Obama, he has many others.
The trillions of dollars spent and thousands of lives lost in Iraq and Afghanistan are now almost universally acknowledged to have been wasted. Bubbling up toward the surface is the "Fast and Furious" scandal wherein Mexican drug cartel suspects are rumored to be paid U.S. moles. If true, and evidence indicates that it is, then federal agencies and their chiefs would be implicated in Mexico's ongoing drug-related violence.
The current Rasmussen polling indicates that Obama's Presidential Approval Rating is a negative 15 points. Only 23 percent of voters "strongly approve" of the president's performance, while 38 percent "strongly disapprove." As Obama's negatives pile up, he can take comfort in a few things. Incumbents generally prevail. Obama has a dedicated base of liberal white Democrats and African-Americans who will stick with him no matter how bleak things get.
Even though Obama has buried America under a mountain of debt, he can try to blame his Republican predecessor, George W. Bush. And it's the disorganized, frequently ineffective Republican Party that represents Obama's best chance to serve a second term.
Obama is unlikely to get as lucky as he did in 2008 when the GOP nominated John McCain, who never had even an infinitesimal chance.
If the Republicans nominate a candidate with widespread appeal, then, given the weakness of the incumbent, the party might win out. Right now, it's easier to identify who among the GOP isn't appealing, presidentially at least, rather than who is. Count out Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman, Ron Paul and Rick Santorum, but not Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin or Michelle Bachmann.
A few weeks ago, I wrote that Obama's best move is to withdraw. Being an ex-president is more fun than being the sitting president, and more financially rewarding. I predicted that what awaits Obama in a second term is dark days.
Look how poorly things are going for Obama now, and the fray hasn't even begun.
Joe Guzzardi retired from the Lodi Unified School District in 2008. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.