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President Obama’s serial failings are a gift to Republicans


Two weeks is a long time in American politics. Scroll back to when the Republican Party was licking its wounds from the debacle of the shutdown and the debt fight, and watch now as it licks its lips as President Barack Obama is knocked back on everything from healthcare reforms to Merkelgate.

Don’t get me wrong, the Grand Old Party has some self-examination to do. It looks like its candidate in next week’s key gubernatorial race in Virginia, Ken Cucinelli, will be clobbered by Democrat hopeful Terry McAuliffe. It’s not that Virginians care much for Mr McAuliffe, but they may dislike a Republican more.

However, on Capitol Hill, Republicans are energised in a way that hardly seemed conceivable in mid-October. The Republican National Committee just dubbed Mr Obama the “bystander President”, a moniker that has dangerous resonance as aides are forced to say repeatedly he was not aware: not aware of the bugging of Ms Merkel’s phone till the summer, not aware that the website for signing up under his Obamacare reforms was not going to work on launch. 

These technical problems will get ironed out. But now the Republicans have something even more potent to play with. Mr Obama repeatedly stated that those who liked the coverage they already had would be able to keep it. Yet hundreds of thousands who have individual policies, not provided by employers, are having them taken away.

No President can be on top of every detail of what is going on at every level of government or know what might pop up next. Yet Mr Obama seems especially disconnected. Ill-served by underlings? Whatever the reason, in recent days he has given the GOP serial gifts it surely doesn’t deserve.