This column originally appeared on Townhall.com on October 1, 2009.
Here’s a bulletin based on an unscientific survey and verified by friends: Obama stickers are getting harder to spot.
That’s right. The ubiquitous blue stickers with the round, red-white-and blue symbol are coming off the bumpers. Even in northern Virginia, which has large pockets of yellow dog Democrats, the stickers are disappearing.
Is this evidence of buyer’s remorse? If it is, someone should tell Pepsi, which changed its logo to look like the Obama symbol and plastered slogans on its ads that implied it was part of “hope” and “change.” They might want to do what Coca-Cola did after the bust of the “new Coke” and go back to their original logo.
As Obama sinks in the polls, the absence of triumphal stickers is becoming glaringly obvious. They used to be as ubiquitous as ants at a picnic. You still see Kerry 2004 and even Gore 2000 stickers on some cars, usually on a Volvo or on a Subaru, the unofficial car of women who wear comfortable shoes. But Obama? Who’s he? You mean the pitchman who’s constantly on television? Isn’t the election over?
America is taking Mr. Obama’s measure and reassessing rapidly. From initiating a gusher of spending, appointing a gaggle of radicals, glad-handing America’s enemies and targeting our own security personnel, the president has alienated one constituency after another. Pretty soon all he will have left will be the pansexual, Star Wars bar crowd and, of course, the unions, which spent $1 billion during the 2008 election cycle and want to jam “card check” down America’s throat to end the right to resist their goons.
Mr. Obama, who once flew high at 70 percent, still has an approval rating of 48 percent, which means a lot of people still expect a government handout. But people registering more negative views of the president are gaining. And, again, those stickers are becoming the oddity when just a while ago they were the rule.
Kimberly Strassel observes in “Obama’s Swing-State Blues” in the Wall Street Journal that the president’s plunge in popularity poses problems for his colleagues, such as Virginia gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds. Mr. Deeds, who has been trying to win the governor’s mansion by boasting of how many babies are going to be aborted on his watch, is not going to Washington anytime soon to pose for pictures at the White House. He’s lying low, hoping the Washington Post’s macaca-style crusade against Republican Bob McDonnell will work. The Post, which has ignored the stupendously incriminating baggage of some Obama appointees, is aghast that McDonnell wrote a thesis 20 years ago that argued for traditional values in public policy.
McDonnell has obeyed dumb Republican consultants and apologized a few times. But he’s still in the driver’s seat because he has a pro-family record, obviously respects women, and has correctly labeled his opponent as a tax-and-spend liberal.
In Strassel’s otherwise brilliant piece, she bemoans the loss of “independent women” who might have voted for McDonnell but for his grad student paper. She notes that he’s weathering it by emphasizing economic issues that put Deeds on the defensive. She’s right, up to a point. But she draws the wrong conclusion when she flatly states: “The moral for the GOP? Cultural controversy does not sell.”
Now, there’s your libertarian error. Cultural issues – done right – sell big-time. But only if you’re on offense, not defense. Cultural issues are a goldmine for conservatives because they split liberal constituencies and appeal to the heart.
Yet across the land, GOP candidates are barely mentioning them. Marriage is on the ballot in Washington State and Maine, but you wouldn’t know it. In Washington, D.C., liberal Democrats have gone on a reckless binge, defeating curbs on abortion funding in the health care proposals and introducing bills to homosexualize the military, overturn the Defense of Marriage Act, expand federal police power with a “hate crimes” law, and enact a gay jobs bill that would enable the feds to harass every business with 15 or more employees. They’ve even managed to get Obama to appoint as “safe schools” czar an activist who has been caught on tape recounting how he advised a teen boy on how to have “safe” sex with an adult male predator. Talk about a power grab. Is Roman Polanski advising him, too?
Watching all this unfold, Democrats should take note of the decline in Obama stickers and reassess their party’s plunge into decadence and deficit spending. It would especially behoove the Blue Dogs in red states who have delayed the government health care takeover (but still might cave) to do some informal bumper sticker counting.
As for the “socially liberal, fiscally conservative” wing of the GOP, it’s counting on mounting horror over Big Government to carry the day. It still might. Stopping the spending surge and liberal plans to hire another quarter million Washington bureaucrats to expand government is extremely important and appeals to all wings. But if the party wants to rebuild a lasting majority coalition, it must connect the dots between liberal social policies and gargantuan government growth.
At the huge Sept. 12 TEA Party rally in Washington, a multitude of signs showed that those folks get it, across the board. The signs demanded a return to sanity on all levels, from curbing government power to restoring constitutional freedoms to respecting family values and America’s religious heritage.
Conservatives need to talk boldly about the entire mess we’re facing, not just the part with dollar signs. And as for bread-alone Republicans, well, they have nowhere else to go.
Are they really going to join the party of the guy with the incredible, disappearing bumper stickers?