Can Obama Get Reelected?

Usually I don’t care about political horseraces. Yet I am fascinated by Obama’s reelection bid. Never mind what’s good for the country. I’m dying to hear him make his case for another four years.

I don’t pretend to be able to predict the future. But I have a rich imagination—and I still can’t begin to guess how the president can convince a majority of voters to choose him over the Republican nominee whether he be Mitt Romney or she be Michele Bachmann.

Obama is good with words. But what can he possibly say for himself after this first fiddling-while-Rome-burns term?

The president only has one major accomplishment to his credit: healthcare reform. However—assuming Republicans don’t repeal it—it doesn’t go into effect until 2014. Which, from Obama’s standpoint, actually helps him. After people find out how it transforms the First World’s worst healthcare system into something even crappier and more expensive, they’ll be burning him in effigy.

“Socialized” (if only!) healthcare has driven away the Reagan Democrat swing voters who formed half of Obama’s margin of victory in 2008. Unless the GOP nominates some total loon (hi Michele) or past-due retread (what up Newt) these ideological reeds in the wind will blow Republican.

The other major component of the Obama coalition, young and reenergized older liberals, see ObamaCare as a right-wing sellout to corporations. Nothing less than single-payer would have satisfied them. On other issues it seems that Obama has missed few opportunities to alienate the Democrats’ liberal base.

“The combination of Afghanistan and Libya could bring a bitter end to the romance between Democratic liberals and Obama,” Steve Chapman writes in Reason magazine. “Many of them were already disappointed with him for extending the Bush tax cuts, bailing out Wall Street, omitting a public option from the healthcare overhaul, offering to freeze domestic discretionary spending, and generally declining to go after Republicans hammer and tong.”

Chapman predicts a strong primary challenge to Obama’s left flank—someone like Russ Feingold.

Lefties are also angry about Obama’s other lies and betrayals: keeping Gitmo open, signing off on assassinations and even the torture of U.S. soldiers (PFC Bradley Manning), redefining U.S. troops in Iraq as “support personnel.” Just this week he reneged on his promise to get rid of Bush’s kangaroo courts and put 9/11 suspects on trial.

Everyone—left, middle and right—is furious about his Herbert Hoover-like lack of concern over the economy. While the multimillionaire president blithely talks about a recovery as he heads off to golf with his wealthy friends, unemployment is rising and becoming structural. Obama will surely pay for the disconnect between reality (no jobs, shrinking paychecks, hidden inflation) and the rosy rhetoric coming out of the White House and U.S. state media.

What, exactly, will be Obama’s 2012 sales pitch? I seriously want to know. Think about it: how many other presidents have been so disappointing that they had to distribute lists of their accomplishments so their supporters would have talking points?

Among the highlights of one of these enumerations going around the Internet are:

“1. Ordered all federal agencies to undertake a study and make recommendations for ways to cut spending.

“5. Families of fallen soldiers have expenses covered to be on hand when the body arrives at Dover AFB.

“14. Removed restrictions on embryonic stem-cell research.”

I’m in favor of these things. (Although I’m not sure why, with real unemployment over 20 percent and the NSA rifling through my email, I should care about numbers 76—”appointment of first Latina to the Supreme Court”—or 86—”held first Seder in the White House.” Really?)

Will micro-mini-accomplishment lites be enough to pry liberal asses off the sofa on Election Day? I think not. On the Big Issues That Really Matter—war, the economy, civil liberties—Obama is a right-wing Republican. He’s only a Democrat on the little stuff. Liberals won’t turn out big for Obama in 2012.

That goes double for the youth vote, a big bloc for O in 2008. From student loan debt to unemployment (which hits Americans under 30 even harder than other age groups), Obama hasn’t delivered. They’ll sit on their hands.

“We’ve always known that lasting change wouldn’t come quickly or easily,” began Obama’s official campaign announcement.

“Always known”?

Remember those Soviet-style “Hope” and “Change” posters from ’08, presenting the skinny Columbia grad as a postmodern Messiah for a nation ravaged by eight years of Bush? Just guessing, but somehow I doubt Obama’s propaganda would have gone over as easily with the caption “Change That Won’t Come Quickly or Easily.”

“It begins with us,” will apparently be one of the slogans for Obama-Biden 2012.

That’s the problem Obama faces next year. In 2008 he told us it was going to begin with him.

(Ted Rall is the author of “The Anti-American Manifesto.” His website is



  • Exactly right. I’ve rung doorbells and phone banked for every election since Bill Clinton’s first. I watched the Democrats lose their spines and become Republicans and thought Obama might, just might be able to change that.

    What has he done? He’s continued all of Bush’s policies, rat-farked the middle class, fought hard against civil liberties, doubled the number of wars we’re involved in, dawdled and then caved to whatever the GOP wanted. He squandered a veto-proof majority in the Senate and a large one in the House, and crapped on the people who voted for him at every turn. So they stayed home, and the Republicans took back control of the House.

    What’s Obama’s solution? Pay for the Bush tax cuts by letting the poor freeze to death. “Move towards the center” by becoming more Republican.

    And, oh yes, give us a rousing speech once every seven or eight months.

    Sorry, but it’s not enough. I’ll vote for my Senator. My Representative has been on the right side of most legislation. But I’ll be damned if I’m going to vote for Bush’s Fourth Term let alone spend money or time getting him re-elected.

  • “1. Ordered all federal agencies to undertake a study and make recommendations for ways to cut spending.”

    That’s an accomplishment?! Worse still, is that supposed to be the biggest accomplishment he has to offer, leading the pack at numero uno? Granted, I’m not a Washington insider, so I have no idea how slowly and incompetently the gears of our federal government grind, but as a reasoning human being nonetheless I’d wager that such an “accomplishment” might take just about as long to achieve as a short intake of breath, and saying the above sentence in a slightly different manner:

    “[I order] all federal agencies to undertake a study and make recommendations for ways to cut spending.”

    Big. Whooping. Deal. I accomplished that between yawning and scratching my back.

    If you put the fear of the IRS into every overpaid numbskull bureaucrat in DC so they broke out in a sweat and pulled all-nighters for a week just so they could meet your deadline, this mighty “order” wouldn’t be an accomplishment. Even if every submission were a genuine, good-faith, rally for the common good of the American people attempt at budget tightening, you’d still be faced with the horrific responsibility of setting priorities and taking a stand for what you believe is best for the nation as a whole.

    Obama can’t do it. Time and time again all he’s been able to do is compromise. In Obama’s case I’d say both meanings apply to what he has done for / to our country with his inability to lead.

    Nice of him to generously step out from behind his triagulation shield long enough to broadcast this ridiculous list though.

    He appoints the first Latina to the Supreme Court and that’s HIS accomplishment? How so? Did he find the most qualified candidate for the position and then wave his Presidential magic wand to transform said candidate’s ethnic origin and gender into that of a Latin-American female? Why on Earth does it matter? If you’re going to call something like THAT an accomplishment, try appointing a male Iraqi-American Secretary of Defense, or a female Afghani-American Secretary of State.

    THAT might impress me.

    “5. Families of fallen soldiers have expenses covered to be on hand when the body arrives at Dover AFB.”

    I’m really surprised you’re in favor of this, Ted, given the tone of some of your cartoons on the subject of “kitschy” national mourning rituals. This seems to me to be more of the same. Is it insensitive and unpatriotic to not give a shit about seeing a flag-draped coffin emerge from a plane? God, if it were my loved one being unloaded in a flag-draped coffin onto some tarmac by solemnly robotic honor guard, I’d find the sight infuriating.

    “Where were Secretary Gates’ well-dressed Cupie-dolls when my boy was coming under fire? Oh that’s right. Unloading more coffins.”

    Chances are, many families of our deceased soldiers feel similarly, in which case this is basically just more money being given to the Defense Department that some acounting nerd will earn a medal for redirecting toward yet another defense contract of dubious value. In that sense, accomplishment #5 directly contradicts accomplishment #1. Well done, Obama!

    “14. Removed restrictions on embryonic stem-cell research.”

    Big deal. Obama’s opened a likely DARPA project up to the even more conscientious, good-natured Free Market. That inspires me just as much as turning Guantanamo over to Erik Prince would. I hereby award him the 2011 Pandora Award for Short-Sighted, Self-Serving Leadership. Let it collect dust along with your Nobel Peace Prize.

    Back to the title of the column: fool us “TWICE”? How about ONCE?

    My prediction:

    1) A “surprising” number of polls will reveal Democrats so divided over Obama that Hillary Clinton will run against him in the primaries (along with a few clowns like Kucinich, too keep us all pining / amused).

    2) Hillary’s proven track record of statesmanship (shown by her ability to…umm…fly from point to point around the globe in a government plane and muster a look of concentration on her face for photo ops) will be measured against Obama’s proven record of accomplishing next to nothing. Surprisingly, spin doctors will make it seem as though there actually is much of a difference.

    3) A “revolution” will occur within the enlightened Democratic party, and Obama, being the great compromiser he is, and having the vision and wisdom to see the nothing can overcome this groundswell of popular support (*gag*) for Hillary, will graciously step down, offering his full backing to Hillary Clinton for President.

    4) Liberal “intellectuals” like Amy Goodman of “Democracy Now!” will announce this stunning dramatic turn with voices quivering with emotion and choked back tears of joy. People of color and oppressed women unite!

    …meanwhile, in the Repuiblican camp…

    5) Newt Gingrich will run for President. Behold, the second coming of Bob Dole!

    Millions of wasted (but AB-SO-LUTE-LY necessary) campaign dollars later…
    President Hillary Clinton!

    (God, let the Mayans be right. All we need is one big, fat solar flare. Please, God. Let’s hang it up, go extinct, and hand over this world to the more competent administration of cockroaches and ants.)


  • Keep dreaming. Barring someone completely unknown at the present time getting into the race, Obama cruises to re-election based simply on how horrible the Republicans actually are at governance. Between Paul Ryan’s disastrous budget proposal, and the slew of disastrous, unpopular, anti-union legislation rammed down the throats of the public thanks to teabaggers, all Obama has to do to make the case is point to them and say “You want this stuff to be national policy? No? Guess I’ve got your vote then.”

    There is only a tiny percentage of liberals, such as yourself who will allow things to get much worse because they’re are angry things haven’t gotten better as much as they would like. The rest of us actually care about what is good for the country and Republicans, well, aren’t. And we get that putting in the people that will roll back what (admittedly insufficient) progress that has been made and make things much worse isn’t a way to make things better- no matter how disappointed we are. Given that, most everyone else will come back to Obama, if for no other reason than to have a firewall against Republican policy.

    No, Obama’s re-election is more or less a lock. The interesting race is going to be Congress. The Senate is probably going Republican, only because we have to defend SO many more seats there this go round. But if the teabaggers keep on their present course, we have a decent shot at taking the House back.

    In fact, I’m going to be optimistic and predict right now- April 6, 2011 that that’s what will happen. Obama gets 4 more years, but we re-take the House and lose the Senate (barely). The oblivious teabaggers keep alienating people and we retake Congress in 2014.

  • He’ll win re-election, Ted, I’m sure of it. In fact, I just got back from Vegas where I bet your house on it. It’s simple, the Republican Party doesn’t have the ability to nominate a reasonable candidate.

    What I want to know is how long this country will perpetuate with a completely ineffective federal leadership apparatus….I think 20 years or so, hopefully enough time for me to secure a farm and get it fully paid off.

  • Obama will win reelection, trust me.

  • held first Seder in the White House
    Desperate much?
    Since everybody seems to be in the prophetic mood, I hereby cast my predictions:
    1. Hillary will most definitely not challenge Obomber. Inertia in the PTB on the Dem’s side will assure he runs unchallenged (discounting Kucinich) or other out-lier.
    2. On the Repug side, if the PTB have their way, Mitt Romney will probably be the anointed one. With careful political manicuring, he’ll probably guarantee Obomber remains a one-termer.
    3. If he can contain his er, flamboyant personality, Trump might make for an interesting side show, but not at a Ross Perot level.
    4. Ron Paul might run as an independent (with Jesse Ventura as VP?), but will probably trail Trump.

    Now, if Romney does get the nomination, it will be interestin to watch the Dem’s machinery subtly explore the Mormon angle. For purely entertainment purposes, that is.

  • Whimsical wrote:
    “There is only a tiny percentage of liberals, such as yourself who will allow things to get much worse because they’re are angry things haven’t gotten better as much as they would like. The rest of us actually care about what is good for the country and Republicans, well, aren’t.”

    No, things haven’t improved as much as we would like – things have gotten much worse. Un/underemployment run amok. No serious jobs creation programs. Trilions spent on wars that make us less safe, not safer. States bleeding red ink while corporations outsource jobs overseas while getting tax cuts. The US Treasury is turned into a bankster ATM. Foreclosures still rising, many of which are illegal as no one really knows who owns mortgage on property. Sham healthcare bill written by and for benefit of insurance and drug industries and based on already failed Massachusetts model. Insurance, drug, prison complex, war profiteers, Wall Street only industries feeling no pain in this economic depression. Civil liberties and the Constitution taking a beating under a former Constitutional law scholar president. Net neutrality fading fast. War on dissent in full swing with anyone who pisses off the State or its corporate benefactors being labelled terrorist. Indefinite detention, torture (even US citizens – see: Bradley Manning), secret prisons still going strong. A Democratic president appoints a Deficit Reduction Commission whose real aim is to convert Social Security into another cash cow for Wall Street – this at a time when the economic meltdown has added more folks to the category of those who would be out on the streets or dead if not for their SS check. Covert ops abound to destabilize foreign govts who don’t allow US military/corporate complex to pollute and pillage their citizens and countries.

    I think liberals and anyone else so inclined can’t be faulted for being more than a little angry that things “haven’t gotten better as we would have liked.” Hell, that’s a freaking understatement. It’s past time for SOME damn bodies to get mad, regain some common sense, and stop voting for either kleptocratic party. There are alternative candidates; it’s time you, me, and everyone in between support them. Even then, it’s time to realize the system doesn’t give a crap about the average person. We can vote for whomever but we have to do mobilize to rebuild and maintain our communities from the ground up.

    This “Republicans are bad for the country” line is getting old, especially as we see that the Democrats have been trying to out-Repub the Republicans for the past couple of decades. If McCain were in the White House would things be THAT much less of a train wreck than they are now? Obama has faithfully continued the BushCheney reign of errors along with reviving the careers of those Clintonistas who deregulated Wall Street which led to the financial fraud fest. Perhaps if a Republican gets in the WH, we’ll see a return to dissent and challenging of power as opposed to the silence, hand wringing, and excuse making we have now which enables Obama to do more damage than any Republican could hope to pull off.

    If the Repubs nominate Palin or some similar nutter, we’ll know that they are happy with Obama’s enacting of their reactionary, plutocratic agenda. Given that Obama is sooo good at being bad, look for a WTF choice of candidate by the Republicans which will ensure an Obama re-election.

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