Steve Kraske

President Obama is down — and so is almost everybody else

Updated: 2013-11-23T06:09:07Z

By STEVE KRASKE

The Kansas City Star

Who’s up and who’s down (and it’s mostly down) in the irrational world of politics:

• President Barack Obama: My goodness, when things turn south in the era of the 24/7 news cycle, they really turn south. His poll numbers are at record lows, at least for him. An Obamacare fix is still far off. And now his no-holds-barred support of a dramatic change in Senate filibuster rules is destined to keep Republicans boiling for the rest of his term.

On top of it all, The Washington Post’s Bob Woodward was in town Thursday night proclaiming Obama hasn’t figured out how to fully engage the levers of power. Ugh.

• Gov. Sam Brownback of Kansas: The old conventional wisdom: He will breeze to a second four years. The new CW: He still will, but with a hitch in his gait against the Paul Davis-Jill Docking Democratic ticket. Put Brownback’s odds at maybe 3-to-1. The issue remains Brownback’s anemic poll numbers. We’re going to have a race, folks.

• Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri: Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, a fellow Democrat, has dominated the spotlight in the ongoing Senate debate over how the Pentagon should handle rape and other sexual assaults in the ranks. Gillibrand wants to strip the military of any involvement.

But insiders say McCaskill’s more measured approach that would keep prosecutions inside the ranks eventually will win out. Look for a resolution before Christmas.

• Gov. Jay Nixon of Missouri: While statehouse Republicans talk tax cuts, Nixon talks about more bucks for public schools and universities. Those competing priorities will collide in January when lawmakers return to the Capitol.

Meanwhile, Republicans are charging hard on workplace hostility issues the Nixon administration faces in its agriculture and labor departments. Memo to politicians everywhere: Second terms are hell.

• Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas: He’s making all the right moves with tea party challenger Milton Wolf now staring him in the face for the August 2014 primary. Roberts remains a prohibitive favorite.

Still, it’s breathtaking to see the extent to which the challenge has re-energized the three-term senator. Roberts first teed off on Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, the former governor and Roberts buddy. This week, the senator trashed Obama, comparing the empty promises of the president’s administration to an old Kansas ghost town.

Wolf is flooding the media with news releases. He’s going to be a pest — and maybe more — for the longtime Washington fixture.

To reach Steve Kraske, call 816-234-4312 or send email to skraske@kcstar.com.

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