Can Obama be beaten?
Rafe MAIR (Canada)
Judging by the media one might think the answer to the inquiry is “how the hell can he win”? I’m not going to trouble you with statistics but stick to basic political junkism, or what is my gut feel, as a resident 10 miles, from the US border.
There are unforeseeable events to come. As British Prime Minister Harold Wilson once said, “in politics, 6 weeks is an eternity”. President Obama must deal with the great questions of the day while Republicans are able to carp, free of any political outfall. But that bald statement is too broad because how the Republicans in Congress play their hands is important to their presidential nominee.
At this writing, either Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich seem to be the most likely nominees for the Republicans which acts as sort of a role reversal as Obama can sit back and fire at will. Since a Democratic leadership race is most unlikely, the President has a preferred chair from which to comment.
For some reason, two small states, Iowa and New Hampshire who hold votes for selecting candidates first, are the political barometers which have a huge impact. It was his weak showing in New Hampshire in 1968 which caused Lyndon Johnson to pull out of the race.
It’s not that the eventual nominee must win these states but it’s here that that nation at large sees the candidates in full swing, strutting about with permanent smiles, eating chicken for the umpteenth time’ and making scripted responses.
These early performances will direct the campaign nonsense to be said thereafter and will also enhance funding or just the opposite. Endorsements will depend to a substantial way upon how the frontrunners handle themselves. After these contests are finished it becomes a free-for-all as the candidates pick and choose where they will campaign and the tactics to be used.
There may be others who step into the race and be the flavor of the month but since that’s improbable and unpredictable let’s stick with the two front runners.
Mitt Romney’s problems are two – his religion and his impassive, unexciting and just plain dull personality makes it difficult for Mr. Romney to project the kind of “humanness” American voter’s respect. He is a Mormon, a tightly knit religion that runs against the American grain. The US is the most religious of western nations and the Bible punchers, especially in the Southern States, don’t believe that Mormons are Christian but rather a bunch of impostors, a cult that decent Christians reject. That hurts.
The front runner at the moment of writing is Newt Gingrich who belongs to the Bill Clinton Sex School whose motto is, if you’re going to have sexual affairs make them as huge as you can and the public will forgive. If, however, one tries to play it down and it becomes a matter for the National Inquirer to speculate about, the public is for some mysterious reason, outraged. Mr. Gingrich, a serial adulterer, seems to be forgiven. Looked at from any angle, Gingrich seems like a far right wing philanderer but he gets away with it.
Before looking at the prospects of president Obama one must ask if there will be a third party in the field able to split the vote as Ralph Nader and Ross Perot have done in recent times? That prospect scares both parties.
Allow me a short pause to recall that in 1948 there was the biggest split in modern history and the President won. Harry Truman, in 1948, saw his party badly split where former Vice President Henry Wallace started a new, further to the left party called the Progressive Party while Strom Thurmond fighting to keep “Nigra’s” away from polling booths, formed the Dixiecrats. Against these two and the Republican favorite Tom Dewey, Truman won.
What, then, about the President Barack Obama – what are his prospects? In my view they are better than the polls show. Somehow the Republicans have been somewhat successful in making the case that Obama was responsible to the Stock Market crash, the sub par mortgages, the bailouts of lending institutions and the thieving executives that declared that their services nevertheless required huge bonuses.
This Republican “newspeak” a la George Orwell’s 1984, has given the US the Tea Party which is based upon the 1773 incident where American patriots, disguised as Indians, attacked a merchant vessel and dumped its cargo of tea in anger at England’s tax on tea. The Tea Party speaks for the wealthy and reduction of their taxes as well making President Obama the culprit for the shocking investment sector all of which is rock-ribbed Republicans.
The Republicans are very good at this. In the campaign of 2004 they made out that the Democratic nominee, the much decorated John Kerrey was a coward while the draft dodger George W. Bush was a hero!
US presidential campaigns have become dirty and hugely expensive with campaigns hugely expensive giving he right wing, big corporation supported Republicans a big boost. 2012 will be no exception.
What must President Obama do to win in 2012? It must be remembered that Obama is no shrinking violet – he is highly intelligent and a very articulate debater. He will not back off outrageous statements as John Kerry did. If the Republicans want to throw mud, Obama will get into the mud-hole and play just as dirty as necessary. He will, as Truman famously in 1948, run against a “do nothing Congress”.
Obama’s main weakness, in my view, has been in foreign policy. He has not seen as strong on Israel as he should be. As Israel continues to occupy property that doesn’t belong to them in defiance of the UN. He has not covered himself in glory over Afghanistan although a departure date has been set. The ameliorating fact is that American foreign policy has been stepping on one cow pat after another for many years.
The US has not been able to find a policy that fits the strongest country on earth. In many ways they’re damned if they do and damned if they don’t. If they don’t support a tin pot dictator, the successor is even worse. Their tendency is to make things worse by their presence in Afghanistan and, when they feel like, getting sideways, for example, with Pakistan.
In a little known area Mr. Obama has allowed his policies abroad ruin the treasury at home. It was George W. Bush’s policy of moving the obligation to pacify occupied countries away from the armed forces to the private sector, with private contractors making billions, that has hugely enlarged the public debt. Obama hasn’t changed this…
In fairness to the president most of these problems go back to Republican days but Mr. Obama was elected to clean up messes, not grouse about them. My prediction? Barack Obama is better liked, a better orator and better debater that any likely Republican challenger and will win.