It looks like next year’s presidential election will be a beauty contest.
Electors aren’t likely to get a Lincoln-Douglas debate. Voters might reasonably have hoped for something approaching that given the domestic financial crisis, young Americans dying in three wars overseas, a host of other difficult domestic and foreign crises, all against a general conflict over traditional ethical values.
But by launching his campaign with outrageous demagoguery, Pres. Barack Obama “made it clear” he will avoid fundamentals. He counts on emotional appeals to self interest – private and corporate welfare recipients, elderly who make old age a profession out of human tragedy, all interests vying for favor at the public trough.
Mr. Obama obviously counts on adulation rather than cognition – from naïve youth addicted to “change-whatever”, the gold-laden Hollywood glitterati, guilt ridden intellectuals obsessed with race, Washington’s enormous public and private lobbies, and minority voters blindly following media created leadership.
That, in turn, will make it difficult for his opponents to respond with a candidate and a campaign based on issues.
Mr. Obama’s opening speech, supposedly presenting a new economic program, was the tip-off. Clichéd ridden, it was rhetorically a u-turn on his own free-spending budget proposals announced just weeks earlier. Without so much as an apology, he “welcomed” the trimmed 2011 budget – halfway through a fiscal year during which Democrats had held all the three Washington power centers and as though his
Democrats had not opposed every cut only days before.
The verbal turnabout permitted Mr. Obama to jump aboard what his counselors obviously see as the Republican Party/Tea Party/conservatives’ bandwagon appeal for renewed fiscal discipline. As an old friend often warned me, never underestimate the role of fads in American life: “deficit reduction” is now “in”, whether understood or not by recently acquired advocates.
Mr. Obama’s teleprompter readings were as golden as ever – a “gift” he once said — even if one tires of a speechwriter obsessed with “xxx let me be clear xxx”, always prelude to another muddled concept. But there were no specific proposals for reining in government spending. In fact, expanding the liberals’ hallowed welfare state would solve problems of debt and unemployment, he reassured us, not surgical systemic reform as his own investigating panel suggested.
But the program to spend the country’s way into new prosperity had crashed, however slow he and his advisers were to acknowledge until the voters told them so first in November 2010, and now with sagging opinion polls. Scarce jobs and rising food and fuel prices are the reality masked by his cooked statistics.
As always it is likely to be the unintended consequences, partially resulting from his own habitual indecision, and unanticipated events dictating the November 2012 outcome.
But some critical facts on the ground are going to be all too obvious.
Mr. Obama’s intent to give the Libyan situation a hit and a miss and bow out to our allies is doomed, as any military observer worth his salt could have predicted. His stand-in, “NATO”, relies overwhelmingly on U.S. initiative as well as hardware and alone cannot dislodge or even modify Qadfaffi’s regime. Despite Sec. of Defense Robert Gates’ repeated pronouncements, American fighterplanes – the only ones capable of doing the job –continue as close air combat support for Libya’s incompetent and suspect rebels. And they will eventually need ground assistance if Mr. Obama’s announced aim of ridding the world of Qadaffi is to be achieved.
As Mr. Obama uses presidential fiat to cancel another pipeline from Canada, the energy fiasco escalates – in all fairness only partly due to his misbegotten policies. But if gas is at $5 a gallon or more Labor Day 2012, as seems likely, voters may look to their credit cards again before entering the polling booth.
There is no dearth of Republican candidates. But with the emphasis on bling-bling rather than legislative and executive experience, the spotlight is all too likely to fall on those matching the incumbent’s “glamour”. That apparently explains the boomlet for Donald Trump, surely the unlikeliest candidate for the presidency in decades.
That’s a sad thought as we enter the electoral season. One can only hope the good sense of the American people which has held us in good stead for so long will reassert itself and demand more substance and less glitz.