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November 3, 2010

Obama’s apocalyptic midterm malaise

Kevin E. Dayhoff

The euphoria of November 2008 and January 21, 2009, is a distant memory as even the most rabid supporters of President Barack Obama resort to their favorite spin machinery and demagoguery to digest the 2010-midterm elections.


Recently historians have been falling all over themselves to find comparisons in history to fully measure the profound fall-from-grace in which President Obama finds himself as he ponders the results of the yesterday’s elections across the country.


Of all the attempts to fathom the profound significance of yesterday’s midterm, finding a non-partisan analysis as to the most significant midterms in history has been problematic. Fortunately, published an account by T. A. Frail on October 14, which is rather academic and perhaps the best primer (because I agreed with it.)


The top 10 historic midterm elections” according to Mr. Frail, include: 1858: the House is divided…, 1874: deconstruction…, 1994: Republican revolution…, 1826: era of hard feelings…, 2002: odds defied, 1930: pessimism wins…, 1966: rejoinder to (Lyndon B.) Johnson…, 1894: comeback and comedown…, 1946: nothing doing…, 1910: splitsville.” I would also give an honorable mention to the midterm elections in 1938 and 1982.


Whether or not the results of the midterms will help our great nation extricate itself from the challenges that confront us remains to be seen.


However those who see it as a silver bullet may be greatly disappointed. Furthermore, those who shallowly have decided that the midterms are a sign that Republicans can re-take the Oval Office in 2012 are overlooking the obvious. Our nation has the attention span of a goldfish.


In 2012 the same fate can happen to the Republican Party that has been exacted upon President Obama who came dancing into office with an extraordinarily high approval rating, yet suffered what may be an arguably historic vote of no confidence yesterday.


Not to be overlooked is the dynamic that some of the Republicans, who are riding this reactionary wave into office, are not being mistaken for being the sharpest tacks in the room. Some of them are just a French-fry short of a happy meal.


If there is any humor in the current malaise in which the two dominate political parties wallow around like bellowing pre-extinction mastodons trying to extricate themselves from a political tar pit, it may be found in the food-fight of kindergarten proportions that has broken out between political pundits as to what President Obama should – could – or will – do next.


However, the one piece of advice that is certainly particularly laughable is that offered by Robert Reich, the former secretary of Department of Labor in the Clinton Administration, who wrote on Monday: “Which lesson will the President learn — that of Clinton in 1996, or FDR in 1936? The choice will determine his strategy over the next two years. Hopefully, he’ll find 1936 more relevant.


“Obama shouldn’t be fooled into thinking Bill Clinton was re-elected in 1996 because he moved to the center… Clinton was re-elected because by then the economy had come roaring back to life… President Obama won’t have that luxury in 2012.”


Okay so far, but here’s the kicker. Dr. Reich says: “(In 1936,) FDR shifted the debate from what he failed to accomplish to the irresponsibility of his opponents. Again and again he let the public know whose side he was on, and whose side they were on. Republicans stood for ‘business and financial monopoly, speculation, and reckless banking,’ he said over and over.”


Yeah, right. And that approach, in part, gave us the “Recession of 1937” and helped prolong the Great Depression – and also led to the Republicans gaining 81 seats in Congress in the 1938 midterms.


That said, those who are trying to use as examples, the successful response of President Clinton to his disastrous 1994 midterms, and President George W. Bush’s and President Ronald Reagan’s response to their congressional reversals of fortune in 2006 and 1982 respectively, are barking up the wrong tree.


One, Presidents Clinton, Bush and Reagan are-were personally charismatic, compelling, and self-confident in their interactions with the leadership of the opposition party.


President Obama is publicly personally popular but privately he is reported to be boorish and inaccessible, if not downright arrogant.


In all of the examples of Presidents Clinton, Bush and Reagan, the economy rebounded by the time they had to run for re-election.


All signs are that, in part, as a result of the disastrous retro-Keynesian liberal economic social-engineering public policies of the Obama Administration, the economy will not recover by 2012.


Much of the challenges that Presidents Clinton, Bush and Reagan faced were situational. President Obama used a bad situational economic downturn to inflict systemic defects into the fabric of our economic structure that will take more than two years of a Republican Congress to address.


Currently, one of the biggest challenges is regime uncertainty. Not only is the uncertainty that has been caused by the vagaries of healthcare reform, historic deficits, and punitive regulatory and taxation public policies an overwhelming problem, but the president himself is highly unpredictable.


Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Reagan all had deep roots in understanding the value of reaching across party lines to develop bipartisan legislative approaches from their experiences as governors with strong oppositional legislatures.


We know horrifically little about President Obama’s past, but what we do know is that there is not a scintilla of evidence that he knows anything about bipartisan approaches to solving problems.


This is precisely why he perseverated upon concepts of reaching across party lines with breathless rhetorical flourish during his election campaign – to astro-turf the fact that he is a die-hard Kool-Aid drinking ideologue who believes that political arrogance – indemnified by a sycophant liberal media hierarchy that will always come to his defense – will solve all problems.


The new normal is that until we can find a credible candidate, either a Democrat or a Republican, to replace President Obama, out national nightmare has two more years to go.


I’m just saying…


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