Monday, September 19, 2011

Should Obama Retire?

President Obama is ahead of his fundraising goals and well on the way to reaching his goal of $1 billion dollars. That is about the only thing he has going for him. He keeps dropping in the polls. Even among minorities his approval rating is dropping.

Some of this is his own fault. The world first noticed him when he gave the 2004 keynote speech calling for political unity. If that man had been elected president then I would not be writing this. Instead we got a partisan, inexperienced Chicago hack. While the country's top priorities were jobs and the recession, Obama's priorities were health care and finance reform. He didn't even try to compromise with the Republicans. He simply use his majority to pass bills that had little or no Republican support and were unpopular with the public. The assumption was that the public would learn to love Obamacare. That may happen in the future but, since most parts will not take effect until after the election, it will not happen in time to help his reelection.

At the same time that his partisanship and free-spending energized the Republicans, he disappointed the Democrats. You would think that the president who delivered health care reform would be a Democratic saint. Instead, the Progressive wing is disappointed. They are recruiting candidates to run against him in the primaries. They are not looking to replace him, just "rigorously debate his policy stands" on issues related to labor, poverty, foreign policy, civil rights and consumer protections."

Obama cannot work with the Republicans and he has given up trying. Raising taxes on the rich seems to be his current top priority considering how often he proposes it and how many different ways he frames it. The Republicans are willing to eliminate loopholes as part of a tax simplification plan similar to the one that Reagan worked out with Democrats in 1986 but they insist that it be revenue-neutral (just as the one under Reagan was). Since Obama will not agree to any plan that does not include a tax hike, this will not happen.

He has spent September tossing out proposals that he knows the Republicans will never pass. These are not meant to be taken seriously. They are campaign points, trying to make it seem that the Republicans are siding with the rich against the regular worker.

With no chance of getting any major legislation through Congress, Obama's only real hope for reelection is an economic recovery. That looks increasingly unlikely. Even if we manage to avoid a double-dip recession, Europe's problems will be a drag on the US economy.

Had Obama made the economy his top priority for his first term he would have a better chance at a second term. The electorate would be more willing to forgive him for a weak economy if they thought that he cared about it. The fact that he had to "pivot to jobs" after pushing his own priorities shows that he put ideology ahead of country.

Reagan and FDR survived bad economies because they were seen as trying to fix it.

So going into his reelection campaign, Obama's main achievements are a health care reform that only 40% of the population likes and an unemployment rate that seems stuck at 9%. Obama will likely face an opponent who is a former governor with a record of creating jobs. While he has a chance at reelection, it is not a good one.

This would be a good time for Obama to retire and throw his support to Hillary Clinton. He doesn't actually like being president, he has said so. His wife hates it and, if their marriage is to have any chance, he needs to get out now.

While liberal, Hillary has a better record of working with Republicans than Obama has. She could also run on the economy under her husband and promise to recreate it (she can't but it makes a good campaign platform). In 2008, Hillary won more big states and open elections than Obama did. She is a tough campaigner who managed to win every state she said that she would (Obama won caucus states and a string of uncontested primaries when Hillary ran out of campaign cash).

This is not to say that Hillary would make a good president. But she would energize the race. She would be immune to Obama's biggest drag - the economy.

So why doesn't Obama do the right thing for his party? Ego. After his defeat George H. W. Bush said that the worst thing about it was the humiliation. If Obama announced that he would be a one-term president he would be admitting his failure. His only chance at redemption is a second term.

No comments: