Is President Obama a 3 in a Sea of 2s?
I have two political maxims – “you make a serious mistake assuming that people in charge know what the hell they’re doing” and, “you don’t have to be a 10 in politics; you can be a 3 if everyone is a 2”…
Chris Hedges along with Ralph Nader, Paul Krugman, Gloria Steinman and Naomi Klein (a Canadian) are the prominent voices of the left and thus can be expected to go a bit easy on their presidential candidate for next November, sitting president Barack Obama. Well, maybe – this is how Hedges sees it. “Obama who has become a global celebrity who was melded easily into a brand. He had almost no experience other than 2 years into the Senate, lacked any moral code, and could be opinionated as all things to all people. The brief Senate voting record was a miserable surrender to corporate interests. He was happy to promote nuclear power as green energy. He voted to continue the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He reauthorized the Patriot Act. He would not back a bill designed to cap predatory credit card interest rates.”
With friends like this, who needs enemies? It should be stated clearly that Presidents neither make the laws which bring in tax revenue nor pass bills – those are prerogatives of Congress. Presidents do indeed ask Congress to raise taxes and pass legislation but such matters can be ignored and Congress’s legislation can be vetoed by the White House although Congress can override the veto.
The flawed Healthcare legislation which many Democrats see as a failure, because instead of there being a single payer, the government, the insurance industry through dozens of companies does this at a huge cost. One should remember that both the Hillary Clinton and Obama’s schemes would have a single payer but the medical profession and insurance companies set their collective hair on fire at this thought and it didn’t pass. In short, President Obama is not responsible for flaws in medical care, Congress is.
President Obama has disappointed many people from all sectors of society wherever they live. He has disappointed me but he doesn’t have to look good but only better that everyone else in the election campaign. In this he has the advantage of being a superb debater and in the TV debates he will clearly best his opponents no matter who they are. These debates have, since the famous Kennedy/Nixon debates of 1960, been a defining moment. No matter who the Republicans nominee is, Obama will thrash him not so much because of incompetence of his opponent, but because debating is the President’s long suit.
The Republicans have another enormous handicap – they must nominate someone after candidates have debated the issues over nearly a year and all across the country. As we shall see these may not be convenient ones to campaign on next November. Unlike the old system of “brokered” nominations – the old “smoke-filled room method – where policy is decided behind those closed doors, Republicans will be held to account for issues they wished would be confined to the nomination process then conveniently forgotten.
There are two matters the Republicans are now debating almost to the shedding of blood stage – abortion and religion, two issues that are Republican issues, the Democrats having staked out their positions long ago thus are delighted if those matters are part of the election itself. I must emphasize these points – the Democrats are united in believing in “women’s choice” as to abortion and are wary of religion becoming a way of governance. That is not to say that the “left” is atheistic but simply that they oppose religion being shoved down people’s throats.
The Republican’s problem is that they can’t avoid religion and abortion – two sides of the same coin – as they must keep their supporters, many of whom live in the South which for 200 years supported the Democratic Party. That changed when Lyndon Johnson, a Democrat from the South in 1964, “betrayed” his supporters by bringing is real civil rights which allowed amongst many things, blacks to vote without hindrance. That created a vacuum quickly entered by Richard Nixon and the Republicans, and it’s been that way ever since. This means that Republicans must be religious and opposed to abortion in order to get support for their candidate in the South, but do it at the real risk of losing votes throughout the rest of the country.
It’s this that makes Mitt Romney, a Mormon, a mixed blessing. He mouths the correct economics mantras, but his Mormonism is a problem where Southern Baptists and other fundamentalist Christian faiths regard the Mormon Church as heretical which is worse than being an atheist. And, of course, there is the Tea Party ultra right crowd which will further handicap any Republic candidate who wants to look loving and sensible in the states other than the South including the giants – California and New York.
There are Republicans who don’t like the thought of religion, abortion, civil right and right wing economic notions domination the Presidential campaign. They strongly suggest – are you ready this – that Florida Governor Jeb Bush (son of and brother of) is the man to move the Republican party more to the center while playing down God and abortion.
How can this be possible? Can’t the “Grand Old Party” do better than this? Could the nation, or indeed, the world stand yet another Bush? You have to think not, but he is abler than George W. though that’s surely damning by faint praise. And he does come from a major state.
It can happen, if no one goes into the nominating convention without the nomination a done deal. Under those unlikely though not impossible circumstances, Bush could get in the race and come up the middle and win. This sort of scenario is easy to pose but not likely to happen. If, however, no one gets a majority on the 1st round, don’t be surprised if the “back room boys” nominates Bush.
It’s important to remember that the president is not elected at large but on a state by state basis through the Electoral College – in golf terms, its match play, not medal. As I have long said, President Obama will take us back to 1948 when President Truman upset the Republican Tom Dewey, not by fighting Dewey, but by pillorying Congress. The “do nothing 80th Congress he called it from the back of a barnstorming train. Whenever he warmed up to his task someone (undoubtedly a “plant”) would yell out “give ‘em hell, Harry which Harry proceeded to do. It won’t be a train in 2012 but a plane – but Mr. Obama will follow Truman and give Congress hell and then some.
President Obama faces two major problems – the Republicans may go outside the present sorry lot of candidates, or a third party comes along, as Ralph Nader did, costing Albert Gore the presidency in 2000. (This doesn’t always happen – Truman had two offshoots of his party, Henry Wallace with his Progressive Party and Strom Thurmond from the Dixiecrats, also in that famous 1948 race). My guess? President Obama, with all his warts is a 3 in a sea of twos, and will win the debates and, handily, the election.