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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

Obama: on the ropes? « Previous | |Next »
October 29, 2010

Obama's supporters say that he would usher in an era of post-partisan harmony, enabling America to transcend its divisive, partisan political conflicts by commanding support for his policies across the political spectrum. I was always unclear what 'bipartisanship' actually meant in this context, especially when The Republican Party has no interest in it beyond mere lip service. The political payoff for the Republicans came with obstructionism.


Tariq Ali in Obama hope was all hype in The Guardian says that:

In times of crisis, the incumbent suffers. And the bigger the crisis the greater the punishment inflicted on those in power, unless they do something that makes a change. Obama has not done so. Instead, both at home and abroad, the continuities between Obama's administration and that of Bush-Cheney far outweigh any differences.Whenever vested interests resisted, Obama caved.

Ali says that Obama has done so on the economy, health care, education and Guantánamo. We can add that Obama's Terrorism and war actions in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen, are a powerful continuity with Bush/Cheney.

Ali finishes by saying that:

As a candidate, Obama projected himself as a new Reagan, above narrow party politics. He wanted to please all, but has ended up annoying many. And if the Republicans can find a halfway decent candidate (perhaps a uniformed one) I doubt the incumbent will get a second term.

The Democrats aren't looking too good in the midterm elections. They look like losing their majority in the House, and the Senate might go along with numerous governorships and state legislative chambers.

Obama's legislative victories, which were based on finding common ground, were important and significant. However, he became bogged down in the compromises, narrowness and deal-making of Congressional politics. His first stimulus had been trimmed to accommodate Republican disapproval.

The Tea Party movement of the Republican Party's conservative base is creating a lot of noise recycling old themes as they exploit the Democrats' intense unpopularity and failures. Kevin Drum says:

Ever since the 1930s, something very much like the tea party movement has fluoresced every time a Democrat wins the presidency, and the nature of the fluorescence always follows many of the same broad contours: a reverence for the Constitution, a supposedly spontaneous uprising of formerly nonpolitical middle-class activists, a preoccupation with socialism and the expanding tyranny of big government, a bitterness toward an underclass viewed as unwilling to work, and a weakness for outlandish conspiracy theories.

Divided government is the norm in the US; a norm underpinned by the under currents on the long-term rightward shift of the Republican Party.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 12:30 PM | | Comments (11)


Yes, one in uniform would be possible. Perhaps they will find one under a bush somewhere.
It is sad to think that the marvelous wave of hope that Obama came in on is maybe over.

It seems pretty clear that Obama is good at getting the black vote out, but has no ideas beyond just wanting to be the First Black President. Maybe we shouldn't be surprised. He's an upwardly-mobile guy from a depressed minority who has made good. Isn't that what the American story is all about?

And after all, even a 2-term President only serves for 8 years. There is a lot of life after being President, and sombody who has done as remarkably well (in upward mobility terms) as Obama will want to enjoy the well-paid speaking engagements, the book-writing, possible diplomatic or humanitarian jobs, etc. etc. Why upset potential opponents of these opportunities?

So maybe Obama doesn't want to upset existing vested interests too much because, fundamentally, he wants to join them, not hurt them.

It was a big job to turn everything around and make everything wonderful in 4 years. He did show that the Americans wanted change though and that in itself will make things easier for the next one as long as they are not brought to office with the old war/control mentality voter.
If he leaves behind a better and fairer health system when he goes he has done a good job.

It's probably too late now for Obama and/or American progressives to turn things around. There should have been more of this kind of thing linked at Club Troppo a lot earlier.

Similar things could have been said about Kevin Rudd here.

Obama will do more for black America after he leaves office and the opinions of it. If he doesnt get embroiled in sex scandals or similar things he may be held in regard equal to M.L.K one day.

Rudd will be remembered for saying sorry and not much else.

The president's party usually loses seats in a midterm; especially when unemployment is high, offices and storefronts are vacant, and factories are running below capacity.

Obama's presidency was based on his theory of governing -- that change is possible by bridging partisan differences and enacting incremental policies that would pave the way for bigger proposals. That theory is defunct.

The Republicans damaged it by denying his promise of changed politics. They did so through tough obstruction---as Abbott is doing in Australia.

Obama has lost his mojo.

Obama has achieved a lot----he passed healthcare legislation that eluded presidents for a century; reformed the financial regulation of Wall Street; bailed out and rescued the auto industry, thereby saving hundreds of thousands of jobs; and passed a $787bn stimulus that may well have prevented wholesale economic collapse.

many Republicans believe that a socialist revolution is taking place in Washington. They see Obama as destroying the America they know, bringing in a massive degree of state control via healthcare reform and ending free-market capitalism.

They are peddling fear and anxiety as they move further and further to the right as they talk in terms of the coming meltdown.

The president's party usually loses seats in a midterm.