Also, I get to make a Foreigner joke.
There’s political bullshitting, and then there’s embellishing your mother’s cancer for political gain. If this is a true allegation, then it’s some ice cold shit indeed. To me this speaks to whatever part of us cringes when we hear about Newt Gingrich divorcing his cancer-stricken wife. It isn’t on the same level, and by no means do I intend to imply otherwise; but if this story is true, it’s pretty fucking ugly for the President all the same. If I was in the White House, I’d be worried about this story because it hits right at Obama’s greatest* strength: the fact that around half the country is very high on him as a person, with his 50 percent personal approval rating having remained basically constant since 2009. His numbers on the economy are in the tank, and he’s slightly underwater on job approval and trending downwards, but half the country is consistent in thinking that he’s a pretty decent guy. Personal approval is pretty important given that the ‘have a beer with’ factor is higher** on most voters’ lists than policy preferences, and if this story takes hold I could see this being more than just another run-of-the-mill, mostly-imaginary bullet point on the right-wing-butthurt list.
Assuming for a second that it is true — would the anecdote really have been less powerful if he related someone else’s experience instead of his own mother’s? I’m trying to picture a person who can empathize with Ann Dunham, but who tunes out when someone else’s mother has cancer. I’m not succeeding.
*Weaknesses of Republican candidates don’t count
**though still far below the old reliable “party affiliation” of course