Gallup is the gold standard when it comes to approval ratings for presidents, so last weeks assessment by the polling company of the presidents standing in the public surely shocked the Obama loyalists who thought that the battle over the debt ceiling had allowed their guy to shine. Certainly he had every chance to make his case to the public, with press conference after press conference and a prime-time speech to boot. The president wasnt pushed hard by his pals in the press room in the Q&A, and the coverage of the crisis was almost absurdly pro-Obama. But still his numbers plummeted to the lowest level of his rapidly collapsing presidency. That only 13 per cent of Republicans applauded Obama wasnt all that surprising. The presidents harsh and hyperpartisan rhetoric had guaranteed that the GOP faithful would give up on the man from Hope and Change. The underwhelming showing among Democrats where 72 per cent support the president was something of a shock. Gallup didnt provide the breakdown of African-American Democrats versus all others, but that underwhelming 72 per cent has to be lifted by his still high standing in the black community. It was the verdict of the independents, however, that really must have rocked the White House and the Chicago gang that had so carefully crafted the presidents endless loop of buzz words about balance, compromise and the adult in the room: Only 34 per cent of these voters support the president. Thirty-four per cent of the great middle-of-the-road-undecided-open-to-the-best-man-and-argument Americans. To quote the Bob Dylan song, Things have changed. These numbers rolled in before the public got word that the economic growth rate had dipped again to a scarcely visible 1.3 per cent in the last quarter. And that headline arrived just as Merck announced another 13,000 layoffs, and the Dow Jones industrial average dropped 4.2 per cent, the S&P 500 3.92 per cent and the Nasdaq 3.58 per cent in the markets worst week in a year. Whats not to like about the Nobel laureate, except perhaps the Libyan fiasco, the continued nightmare of Obamacares rollout, and an exploding Fast and Furious scandal? Imagine if the Republican message machine had been at all competent for the months of June and July as the president pushed the country toward the fiscal cliff and demanded killer tax increases from an already reeling private sector. The presidents political prospects are now so bleak as to tempt him to start the two-minute drill 15 months out from the election. Why wouldnt he unveil an October-surprise-of-the-month club. He has proven himself willing to say anything, so why wouldnt he start doing the unthinkable? Obama has already broken with long-standing precedent by ordering his Department of Justice not to defend the Defence of Marriage Act, even though no Circuit Court of Appeals has yet called into question the laws constitutional foundation. He has already floated an assault on the First Amendment and federal contracting law with the idea of an executive order compelling government suppliers to abandon their rights under Citizens United without any statutory authority for the move. The president threatened seniors with a Social Security cut off not once but twice, and he fairly invited a market panic in his now infamous Friday night tantrum in the White House press room. So why wouldnt a desperate president try the absurd 14th Amendment argument floated by the hard left that he could move the debt limit by himself? Why wouldnt he use a collision with the debt limit to direct his Treasury secretary to pay everyone but the seniors and the military and then blame the GOP? Thats the Chicago Way. What the Gallup numbers illuminated, with a glare so bright that not even all the mainstream media can miss it, is that the public has taken the measure of the president and his economic and foreign policies. The Republicans could conceivably put the president back in the game by nominating a candidate that scares the middle even more than the president does, but that will take some doing. The really interesting question is where would his numbers be if the special operators hadnt killed Osama bin Laden? That and the other query: How low can those numbers go? Washington Examiner