Thursday, October 25, 2012

Obama's Mistakes

President Obama has made many mistakes that have hobbled his reelection chances and may cost him reelection. The worst of these go all the way back to the first days of his administration. Here are a few of them.

Ignoring the economy. When deciding his agenda, Obama someone pointed out that staving off a second Great Depression would be a good legacy. Obama replied that it wasn't big enough and went for health care reform instead. He recently told an the Des Moines Register editorial board that he does not regret this decision. He should.

Ignoring the Republicans. During his the two years, the Obama Administration attitude toward the Republicans was "We've got the votes. F--- them." The Obama people never figured out how to work with the Republicans. He stopped even trying in mid-2011. Even the widely disseminated quote about the number one priority being to ensure that Obama is a one-term president was said in the context of Obama refusing to work with the Republicans.

Class Warfare. The 99%. Making the rich pay a "little bit more" or "their fair share". We've been hearing this stuff for four years and I'm sick of it. I imagine that a lot of other people are, too. Obama has repeatedly shown that he would rather throw the country over a fiscal cliff than let the rich keep their current tax rates.

Trickle Down Economics. For all of Obama's rhetoric about the rich, his economic stimulus mainly consists of giving subsidized loans to Wall Street in the hope that it will spark a wider recovery. This is why the stock market and corporate profits are up but the general economy is still sputtering.

The campaign team. Obama's campaign team is not as good as they are often credited for being. Yes, they got him elected in 2008 but they had a strong tail-wind. Hillary Clinton (primaries) and McCain (general election) were not strong candidates. Clinton burned through all of her campaign money by Super Tuesday. That gave Obama two months of uncontested primaries to give a sense of inevitability. Even then, he did not capture an outright majority of the delegates. In the general election, Obama bypassed federal matching funds which let him spend twice as much as McCain. He used the extra money to run more negative ads than ever before. Add in the economic crash and Bush fatigue and all Obama needed was a competent campaign staff, not a great one.

The Big Question. Since 1980, the big question has been "Are you better off now than you were four years ago?" Romney didn't ask this, the media did and for a week the Obama campaign couldn't give a straight answer. They must have know this was coming? It doesn't help that the economy may be doing better but a lot of individual voters are worse off.

These were general problems that would hurt him against any candidate. Here are the problems that hurt him against Romney.

Hitting Romney too hard and too early. Team Obama wanted to define Romney before he could define himself. They should have learned from 1988 when Dukaksis defined himself on the basis of the Massachusetts Miracle. That made attacks on Dukaksis more devistating. Instead, the attacks came so early that they lost effectiveness. People stopped caring about Bane last Summer.

Hitting Romney as being too conservative. Romney is a moderate and we all know it. If he had been the red meat conservative that Obama tried to paint him then he would have wrapped up the nomination much earlier. Team Obama would probably have done better with their original plan of calling Romney a flip/flopper.

Relying on a "Hit Mitt" strategy. For months the Obama campaign didn't have a single positive ad. All they had were anti-Romney ads. As Romney pointed out in the last debate, attacking him is not an agenda. The Obama people felt that the key to winning the election was to base it on likeability. The debates turned this around because Romney may come across as a throwback to the father in a 1960s sit-com but those were likeable figures.

Having no agenda. This is the flip side of the Hit Mitt strategy. Obama did not want to be tied down by campaign promises so he never said what he plans for a second term. Hope and Change is no longer enough and Forward is not inspiring. Without concrete promises, Obama has nothing to run on except "more of the same". To be fair, items that Obama will probably push like same-sex marriage and immigration reform are controversial and may not being him any net votes.

Lack of honesty. People are beginning to check some of Obama's assertions. Letterman looked up Romney's 2008 editorial on Detroit bailouts and found that he did not want GM to go out of business. Libya looks worse every day. Once the public stops trusting you, you never get its trust back.

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