Prepare Yourself for Obama's Second Term
(See also: The Prism of Electoral Reality)
For some time now, many conservatives have thought that President Obama is the Second Coming of Jimmy Carter. They think that chronic 9% unemployment, creeping inflation, and a foreign policy of self-abasement and weakness will doom Obama to a single term, and that he'll slink off with his tail between his legs in disgrace, just like Carter did after the election of 1980.
Maybe they should be thinking about the election of 1996 instead.
Does anyone remember the disaster that was Bill Clinton's first term? The first attempt to put gays in the military, the first attack on the World Trade Center by Muslim fanatics, and the "Assault Weapons" Ban? The proposal to raise taxes, increase spending, and downsize the military? Hillary arrogantly proclaiming that she was no little Tammy Wynette standing by her man and baking cookies? That she would revamp the entire health care system, by herself, in secret, without congressional input? Does anyone remember the Waco debacle, which led directly to the Oklahoma City bombing, and Clinton's allegation that it was the fault of talk radio? Does anyone remember the landslide Republican victory in the House in 1994, breaking forty straight years of Democratic control -- a massive rebuke of the Clinton administration?
And yet...Clinton got re-elected in 1996. He didn't just squeak by, either -- he won a crushing 379-159 victory in the Electoral College and beat the Republican ticket by eight and a half percent in the popular vote.
Conservatives were in shock. How could this happen? Answer: after the 1994 conservative revolution in the midterm elections, the Republican 1996 presidential campaign turned into the Revenge of the Flaming Moderates. The Republican primaries featured banal, milquetoast candidates like Lamar Alexander (whose campaign strategy was to don a flannel shirt and stand in front of a sign proclaiming, appropriately enough, "Lamar!"), Steve Forbes, Richard Lugar, and the doddering Washington insider Bob Dole. Pat Buchanan fought an insurgent battle against the GOP moderates, finishing second in the primaries just to keep it interesting, but he quit the party soon thereafter.
The 2012 crop of GOP candidates is no better; quite arguably, they are a good deal worse.
I'm sure Herman Cain is a great guy and that the sexual harassment allegations against him are either overblown or outright false. Nonetheless, he demonstrated that he's in over his head the other day when he couldn't answer a simple question on Obama's illegal war in Libya. Cain has no political experience whatsoever. A couple of terms in the Senate or a stint as secretary of commerce would burnish his credentials. But frankly, right now, he has none. The last person to become president without having previously held elective office was Eisenhower, and he had "Supreme Allied Commander on the Winning Side of the Biggest War in Human History" on his resume, not "pizza salesman."
Rick Perry showed some promise early on. As governor of the second-largest state in the country with a healthy economy, low taxes, and fiscal stability, he might've been a contender. But he managed to become an example of the left-wing caricature of the Texas redneck all by himself, without the usual dirty tricks from the likes of Dan Rather and the Travis County Democratic Party to set him up. His latest flub -- the inability to remember which Cabinet agencies he'd cut -- finished him. Never before has the cliché "He shot himself in the foot" been more apropos.
There's Newt Gingrich, who lost the 1995 budget battle to Clinton. His political negatives were so high that he resigned after only four years as speaker so that the left couldn't use his own infidelity against him during the impeachment of Clinton. In 2000, two years after Gingrich left office, Hillary Clinton carpetbagged her way into New York and campaigned against the "Newt Gingrich Republicans." She promised to bring 200,000 jobs to New York. Six years later, the state had lost 50,000 jobs. She was re-elected. Newt hasn't held office since 1998.
Then there's Ron Paul -- interesting, sincere. Would've been a perfect running mate for Calvin Coolidge in 1924.
That leaves us with the blow-dried Janus, Mitt Romney. Romney is from a high-tax liberal state and has backtracked on almost every position he's ever taken. Why would Democratic voters cross party lines to vote for a white, pro-choice, pro-gun control, pro-government health care Republican graduate of Harvard Business and Law Schools when they can vote for a black, pro-choice, pro-gun control, pro-government health care Democratic incumbent -- also a graduate of Harvard Law? Answer: they won't. Romney bent over backwards to appeal to left-wing voters in the Senate campaign against Ted Kennedy, and Romney lost.
Not only is the Republican field extremely weak, but it has little appeal to the average voter. Tea Party activists -- whom political scientists refer to as "attentive publics" -- are not average voters. The average schlub will vote for the most ubiquitous political face he sees while channel-surfing between the football game, the porno channel, and Judge Judy after yet another trip to the refrigerator. That means for Obama. Beyond that, the primordial concern of the average American is "What kind of government freebee can I get, and who's going to give it to me?"
A recent Bloomberg News article by Brian Falter stated that "a record 49% percent of Americans live in a household where someone receives at least one type of government benefit, according to the Census Bureau." Forty-nine percent! All Obama has to do is get another two percent, and he's in for a second term.
I could be wrong, of course. I've been wrong before. In 2008, I publicly stated that there was no way in hell the American public was going to vote for a man named "Hussein," who spent his youth in a Muslim country, only seven years after 9/11.
I sincerely hope I'm wrong again. But I doubt it. Instead of Obama looking like the Second Coming of Jimmy Carter, it looks like Romney may be the Second Coming of Bob Dole.