Thursday, September 01, 2011

Obama's Problems

President Obama has some recurring problems that should be keeping his campaign staff up nights worrying. Here is a sample:

Summer - Things go wrong for Obama during the Summer. In 2009 his health care proposal started hitting significant opposition and public approval for it dropped. While the bill eventually passed, it remains unpopular with only around 42% of the population supporting it compared to 44% that want it repealed. In 2010 his "Recovery Summer" turned into a cruel joke when the unemployment figures were released. This was followed by the Gulf oil spill. Obama made himself look helpless by talking about kicking butts but never actually doing anything. At the same time he showed how hostile he is to business when he refused to talk to the CEO of BP because "CEOs lie". Going into the Summer of 2011, the Democrats planned on hitting voters on the Republicans' plans to change Medicare but got distracted and lost focus over the debt ceiling raise.

Obamanomics - In 2009 Obama promised to end the boom and bust business cycles and replace them with a new economy based on education, health care, and clean power. Two years later there is talk of an education bubble, health care costs continue to spiral, and clean energy looks like a mirage. Most European countries have backed away from commitments to renewable energy because of the cost. Spain in particular found that every green job created cost the economy 2.5 other jobs. In the US, three makers of solar panels have gone out of business in the last month alone, taking hundreds of millions of dollars of grant money with them. With an economy growing at 1%, Obama has managed to eliminate the boom and bust cycles. We are stuck in a permanent bust cycle.

Foreign Relations - Name one country that has closer relation with the US now than during the Bush administration. There is at least one - Cuba. Now name one that we want better relations with. Obama has alienated traditional allies such as England, France and Germany. He has pushed away new allies such as India. He is openly hostile to Israel. Post-revolutionary Egypt is less friendly than before. Even countries that we absolutely have to have as friends such as Afghanistan and Pakistan are becoming hostile.

Tin Ear - In 2008, Obama played politics with the best of them. His gift seems to have deserted him, possibly half-way through his oath of office (which had to be administered twice because of a stumble). His vow to work with Republicans didn't make it to February, 2009.
His wife goes on extravagant vacations. He vacations on Martha's Vineyard Hawaii. His bus trip in a $1,000,000 bus was transparently a campaign trip paid for by the taxpayers (it didn't help for the Secret Service to say that the second bus would be available to the Republican challenger during next year's campaign). As Hurricane Irene closed on the East Coast, his first instinct was to continue with his vacation and return to the White House hours before the hurricane was due to hit the DC area. After wide-spread criticism about the expense of the President and First Lady taking separate flights to Martha's Vineyard, they took separate flights back. Next week will be his 3rd or 4th "pivot to jobs". He shows disrespect to the other branches of government, telling the Supreme Court that they made a bad decision to their faces during a State of the Union address and summoning members of Congress as if they worked for him instead of being part of an equal branch of government.

Strength - Obama picked a couple of fights with the Republicans that he didn't have to have. The debt ceiling could have been raised while the Democrats controlled both houses of Congress and the Bush Tax Cuts should have been dealt with before the last minute. In both cases, Obama seemed to fold under pressure. The White House felt it had gotten a good deal but the rest of the country saw things differently. Even on such a basic thing as scheduling his jobs speech, Obama forced a fight with Congress and lost. He could have, and probably should have, given the address from the Oval Office. Instead he decided to have it before a joint session of Congress and he scheduled it to conflict with a Republican presidential debate. After White House spokesman Jim Carney dismissed the debate as too unimportant for the President to worry about, Obama moved his speech. A basic rule of politics is that you should never start a fight that you can't win. Obama still has to learn this.

Put it all together and Obama has an uphill battle to win reelection.

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