Four More Years, but When?

I still like Obama. As I said last January, I hope he gets another term.

Maybe not the next one, however.

Like Steve Jobs in 1985, Obama’s career path could do with a bit of failure right now. And it looks like Romney is up to the task as his replacement. Most likely though, according to the polls, Obama is going to win a squeaker on Tuesday. That might be all he needs to become a great president.

But a loss could be even better. A chastened Obama would have some time to reflect on his mistakes, and then run again, as an independent. (Yep, I’m still looking for ways to destroy the party system.)

Obama had two notable success stories during his presidency. He moved the country towards universal health care, and he carried on with the Clinton-Bush foreign policy, especially in Iraq and Afghanistan. He shares the blame with Congress for the weak economic recovery, but it’s not clear how they could have responded with any more stimulus that wouldn’t have required borrowing past the point of no return, debt wise. He could have done better, but given his inexperience and ties to the Democratic Party, he did surprisingly well.

He is no longer inexperienced. And once he wins again, he will no longer be beholden to the Democrats in Congress or his liberal left party base. They have been an albatross around his neck. Still, if he wins Tuesday they remain a big problem for him.

Win or lose, once the campaign is over Obama should read Bob Woodward’s book, The Price of Politics, about his first term. The President squandered an opportunity in 2011 to broker a deal with the Republicans to address the debt and deficit crisis. Woodward was not impressed with Obama’s leadership and negotiation skills.

The Republicans are going to take the House again. Paul Ryan, if he’s not the next vice-president, will be returning as Budget Committee Chair. (He ran again as a congressman as well on the national ticket.) A re-elected Obama has to make a deal with Ryan to get the deficit under control. If Obama loses, and wants to run a third time, Ryan might very well be one of his opponents. Running as an independent, as a born again fiscal conservative who proves his sincerity by leaving the party, Obama might then have a better chance with the electorate that’s so disappointed with him now (and that includes many who are voting for him.)

Not winning on Tuesday might also help him to avoid impeachment. The next House of Representatives is going to keep looking into administration screw ups with Fast and Furious and Benghazi. There remain questions about why Obama invoked executive privilege in the former, and misled the country about the latter. As they keep saying on Fox News, unlike Watergate, with these scandals people actually died.

If Obama is not in office, the hearings won’t go very far. At worst it will be another Iran-Contra, Reagan’s embarassing folly. As a sitting president however, especially one who might not win the popular vote this time around, he could be praying for acquital in the Senate if the House Republicans find enough dirt to back up their suspicions.

I admit, I’m dreaming. A loss for Obama probably means political retirement. Carter and Bush senior never made comebacks. But this guy is fighting like hell to get re-elected. He’s not going to be satisfied, at his young age, with only one term. Whether he wins the next four or another election four to twelve years from now, I’d like to see him fullfil his promise to put an end to polarizing party politics.

So, if I had a vote on Tuesday, would I mark my ballot for Obama?  Last time my preference was for McCain, and in some ways Romney is an even stronger alternative. I’m still undecided, and suspect I’d only make up my mind if I had to, once I got into the voting booth.

Obama broke a lot of promises. Romney made a lot I doubt that he can keep. Neither impressed me with their campaigns, but then I blame that on party politics, not the candidates themselves.

Once again, as in 2008, I like both of the major candidates, despite their imperfections.  I keep coming back to one factor however. Obama’s four years in the White House trumps Romney’s four years as governor of Massachusetts.

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