Monday, October 26, 2015

Why Hillary Won't Be President

There is little doubt that Hillary will win the nomination for presidency but there are a number of reasons that she cannot win the election.

History is one big roadblock. In the last 100 years, a single party has only kept the White House for more than two terms twice. Reagan/Bush held it for 12 years and Roosevelt/Truman for an amazing 20 years, Roosevelt/Truman was a special case with Truman already in office when he ran on his own. Obama is no Reagan, leaving behind so much goodwill as to propel his successor into office in a virtual third term and Hillary is not running as Obama's successor.

The wave elections of 2010 and 2012 imply that the country is reluctant to vote for Democrats unless Obama is at the top of the ticket and the country is suffering from Obama fatigue in general. Obama's executive orders have also cost him (and his successor) support.

There is also the leftward shift of the Democratic party. Obama ran as a blank slate then proved to be much further left than many of his supporters imagined. But the party has moved further left than Obama. This will be a defining election - has the country as a whole moved to the far left or just a portion of the Democratic Party? With all of the candidates running to the left of Obama, we won't know for sure until the general election but my guess is that the more centrist candidate will win. The Republicans have not moved anywhere near as far as the Democrats so they are more likely to nominate a centrist.

All of that is generic.There are some specific reasons that Hillary won't be the next president.

Her age is one of them. She will be as old as Regan when we was elected and his age did come up as an issue. Her health may also become an issue. There are rumors that she has health problems. All of the Republicans come across as young and vital compared to her.

Hillary fatigue is another problem. She's been a public figure since 1992. I doubt if anyone under 30 can remember a time when she wasn't known. It's hard to generate Obama-level excitement for someone who has been around so long.

Then there is Hillary herself. She is not a warm person. Typically, she is most popular when she is away from the public spotlight. The more people see her the less they like her.

She is also insincere. She can't hide the fact that she's taken multiple stands on issues depending on what's most popular. She will have trouble justifying many of her current positions in a general election and fact checkers have already caught her in flips.

And all of that assumes that none of the corruption associated with the Clinton Foundation comes out.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

What's Happening in Syria

Back from a long break from blogging. We'll see how often I keep updating but this one is fairly important and I want to go on the record so that I at least have the satisfaction of gloating later.

To many people, President Obama's policy on Syria has been puzzling. He really has no policy except to hope that things turn out better on their own. Part of this is his conviction about "being on the wrong side of history" and is aversion to boots on the ground, especially after he bragged about bringing the troops home.

As I write this, the Russians have entered Syria, promising to aid the fight against ISIS (or ISIL or the Islamic State) but their air strikes seem to be doing more harm to rebels apposing Assad than to ISIS.

So, here in a nutshell is what's been going on:

For most of his presidency, Obama pinned his hopes of a major foreign relations accomplishment on a nuclear proliferation agreement with Iran. He unwisely let Iran know how important this was to him giving them an edge.

Early in the war Obama was advised to help the rebels in order to bring Assad to the bargaining table. He didn't do this because Assad is Iran's client and they threatened to stop the treaty if he moved against Assad.

At the conclusion of the treaty process, Obama stated that he expects Iran to move back into the world as a regional power. Privately, Obama is counting on Iran to fight ISIS for him.

So far Obama's efforts against ISIS have had limited effect. You cannot win a war by limited air strikes alone and Iran has objected to Obama arming any force that might threaten Assad. This left a power vacuum in the Middle East which Putin's Russia has filled.

Obama hoped that Iran didn't mean the daily chants of "Death to America" and that signing a treaty that gives Iran a path to being a nuclear power and releasing billions in cash will make Iran our friend. He is likely mistaken.

Putin is taking advantage of our weakness and providing direct aid to Iran's client. This will help Iran in becoming the regional power that Obama envisioned but it will be a Russian ally not an American one. This has an added benefit because the refugee crisis caused by the civil war in Syria is causing strain on all of Europe. The weaker Europe is, the harder it is for them to oppose Russian expansion.

This should be obvious but Obama has trouble seeing Russia uncritically. He spent years on a reset and he has dismissed their territorial ambitions as being on the wrong side of history. He dismissed Romney's warning about Russia with a one-liner about the 80s wanting their foreign policy back. It never occurred to him that Russia wanted a return to the 80s.

So, my prediction is that when the dust settles, Iran will control Syria and Iraq with Russia's aid and will be threatening the other countries in the region. Europe will be too busy worrying about the refugees from all of this to do anything to stop it and it will probably be too far advanced when a new president is sworn into office for the United States to take any effective action.

And that will be President Obama's real major foreign accomplishment.