Lately, President Obama can’t seem to catch a break. Of course, in addition to Republican opposition hellbent on destroying his administration, the Oba-man hasn’t exactly furthered his own causes by betraying the interests of his party during the debt ceiling discussions and then tout it as an act of bi-partisanship somehow worthy of celebration. I know.
The initial phase of their compromise – making close to $1 trillion in spending cuts without closing corporate loopholes or raising taxes on the weathy – has been viewed by many on the left as a direct reflection on Obama’s inability to push the heavily supported idea of a “shared sacrifice.” However, the president still has a considerably good chance to make moves on that idea if and when Congress puts tax and entitlement reform back on the table. But it’s not very likely that he’ll do anything at that point either.
So with the debt ceiling ‘compromise’ viewed as an epic failure from the base, the subsequent downgrade in our S & P rating, and a looming economy hanging over the President’s head, how in the world can he make a legitimate run in 2012?
From my perspective, he has two viable options to keep him in the White House another four years:
He can negatively campaign directly against the GOP candidate (whomever that will be at this point) and tie his/her candidacy directly to the unpopular establishment. But given his own unpopularity at this point, using that approach could either give him just enough steam to push him over the finish line or stop him in his tracks.
Or oppositely (and perhaps slightly more positively), he could campaign on long-term vision, focusing his efforts on job creation, education reform, infrastructure, technology, and – to an extent – terrorism (ride the Bin Laden wave for as long as you can, Mr. Prez). But in doing so, he may be required to have candid and uncomfortable discussions on how some of these long-term ideas can’t take effect until after unemployment gets back under control AND how middle-class causualities may pile up along the way. These kinds of long-term plans to directly tear down our deficit can’t reasonably succeed without higher taxes for everybody – not just the wealthy – AND the government taking prudent steps to retard the growth of Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and the defense budget.
My guess: Obama won’t go either route. All throughtout the 2008 Democratic primaries, he showed an unwillingness or outright inablity to take hard swings at his oppoonents when the opportunity presented itself. So we can rule that out. On the other side of this coin, I definitely don’t think he is willing to have the difficult conversation about how our country’s economic revival has to be spurred by a combination of tough spending cuts and imposing tax hikes. I predict both he and his opponent will sound like they are long-term visionaries. But neither one of them will be campaigning sincerely. Neither one of them will be willing to make the tough – but very necessary – choices to get this country back on track. Instead, count on another election cycle full of games and parlor tricks as both sides vie for the White House with ideologies not at all commensurate with the very real challenges we are facing.
I think this is why I might just be done with Obama. I’m certainly not voting for the other person. So, is it too late to vote for Hillary?