Friday, November 26, 2010

Why Obama Won in '08 and Why He Won't Win Again.

It is common to look top history as a template for evaluating current situations. While helpful, it is not exclusive, and sometimes, the wrong lesson can be learned from the exercise. For instance, supporters of President Obama often cite to either President Clinton after the 1994 elections, and how he was able to be re-elected or even Reagan after the 1982 election and the damage done to his chances of re-election because of the economy. But I believe that neither of these examples is a good road map for Obama's re-election.
But first, we should look and see how it was that Obama was elected in the first place. As a junior senator from Illinois, he had no significant accomplishments aside from a key note address at the 2004 Democrat convention. During the 2008 campaign, he must be given credit for manipulating the system that should have provided Hillary with the nomination in his favor. He was able to overcome the superdelegate problem by basically co-opting those who weren't for him to begin with. During the campaign, the motto was always "Hope" and "Change." But it was the non-specificity of those two words that were both their genius and his downfall. After all, can Obama really be blamed for what we understood Hope and Change to be? If you look at his speeches during the campaign, there were zero specifics. Everything that we imagined him to promote, he never did. We simply imposed it on him.
Now honestly, it is our fault that we elected him in spite of his lack of accomplishments. After all, during the campaign, he pointed to running a campaign as his most significant accomplishment to date. Otherwise, he was a "community organizer." Now just what the heck is that? And how is that qualifications to become President?
Again, it is our own darned fault that we elected him, but when it comes to 2012, will we fall for it again? Will the silver tongued orater be able to use his teleprompters to inspire us, or will we simply look at him and think "he doesn't mean a word of what he is saying." My thinking is that in 2008 there was a high degree of Republican in general, and Bush in particular fatigue. Whoever won the nomination for the Presidency from the Democratic Party was going to become President. But there won't be Bush fatigue in 2012. In fact, some surveys actually show GW Bush to be more popular than Obama at the moment. Additionally, Obama lacks the political acumen to do a self assessment that is honest. So far, the President seems to blame his failure to inspire with his policies on poor communication skills (irony alert) and that we are all scared, so we don't think clearly. Nowhere in that assessment is the idea that his ideas aren't popular. In fact, that is his Achilles heel. He can't believe that people wouldn't agree with his assessment of the situation. There has to be something that is obscuring the ability to explain his message. Fox is often used as the villain, but it cannot explain the vast majority who reject Obama's policies. The administration's inability to fathom that Americans are not another special interest group to be bought off with give aways is going to be the reason that Obama doesn't win re-election.

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