Obama 2.0 in 2020

Not surprisingly, Deval Patrick has been ordained by the Obama camp as the favorite for 2020.  As Obama 2.0, the former Massachusetts governor would bring the same failed policies as his mentor.  The danger is that by 2020, much of the electorate will have forgotten just how flawed those policies were.

And so a brief reminder:

First, Obama was fortunate enough to have inherited an economy that had begun to recover by the time he entered the White House in January 2009.  The economy would have recovered no matter who was president.  Obama's contribution was to make it the slowest post-recession recovery in 70 years.

GDP gains following postwar recessions have averaged 4.3%.  Growth under Obama averaged 2%.  So the economic growth the U.S. lost under Obama was at least 18.4% percent (4.3% minus 2% equals 2.3%, times 8, excluding compounding).

That growth deficit will continue to shadow those same Millennials and younger Gen Xers who helped elect Obama.  Compounded over a lifetime, that lost growth amounts to 4.5 times whatever growth was squandered under Obama (18.4% x 3% average growth x 50 years compounded).  Lost economic growth is the gift that keeps on giving.

Second, Obama was fortunate enough to have inherited a situation in the Middle East that had stabilized due to the Bush "surge."  Along with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Obama made a shambles of the Middle East, destabilizing allies in Tunisia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Libya and plunging Syria into civil war.  None of this was helped by Obama's estrangement from our ally Israel.  In the Far East, he did no better, playing ostrich to the threat posed by China's militarization.  And now there is North Korea, also ignored for eight years. D id North Korea suddenly obtain missiles capable of striking the mainland U.S., or were they developed while Obama was intentionally looking the other way?  

Third, economic decline and foreign policy mismanagement were matched by cultural and civic decline.  Race relations had been improving up to 2009.  It is generally acknowledged that race relations declined under Obama.  Not since the 1960s has America seen such racial upheaval, as for example in Ferguson, Missouri, where rioting in response to legitimate police action was fueled by Obama's many attacks on the police.

Then there is Charlottesville, where a mob of nasty white supremacists was met by a mob of belligerent adversaries.  This confrontation was the result of eight years of reducing politics to the lowest common denominator.  Charlottesville was an ugly mêlée followed by a brutal vehicular assault.

A large part of the solution is for our leaders to resist the temptation of scoring political points off every act of violence.  Unfortunately, the response to Charlottesville, including Obama's recent tweet, represents just that sort of politicized response.  In the context of events, what the former president said is, I have the moral high ground.  I condemn haters on the right but keep quiet about those on the left (such as the Steve Scalise shooter and many of the Black Lives Matter assailants).

Under Obama, the conduct of politics declined with the president publicly slamming members of the opposing party and justices of the Supreme Court.  Then there was the former president telling us, again and again, that we could keep our doctor and our health care provider.  For millions, that turned out not to be true.

And, in addition, the "unmasking" opponents for political purposes.  To exploit the nation's intel services for political gain is, of course, illegal.  It is also a new low in the conduct of politics.  Like voter fraud and fake news, it undermines our democracy.

In sum, Obama's eight years were years of national decline.

Would Deval Patrick be any better?

Between 2007 and 2015, when Patrick was governor of Massachusetts, real GDP growth was less than one percent (0.96%).  By comparison, real GDP growth in Texas was 2.8%, nearly three times that of Massachusetts.  Could we reasonably expect Patrick to do better at the national level than he did in the Bay State?

The simplest measure of a state's success is population growth.  From 2007 to 2015, the population of Massachusetts grew from 6,432,000 to 6,794,000 (unofficial estimates), an annual population growth rate of 0.56%.  Compare that to Texas: 23.83 million to 27.43 million, or 1.51% annual growth, again nearly three times that of Massachusetts.

Clearly, the Dems should be running Rick Perry.  But then he doesn't quite fit the liberal mold.  All he can do is bring about enormous prosperity, security, and happiness to 25 million Texans.  

Patrick has no significant foreign policy experience, but then neither did Obama, and Obama managed to create the worst instability overseas since the Korean War.  Maybe Patrick can expand on that.

On race, Patrick, who was assistant attorney general for the civil rights division under Bill Clinton, has made a career out of civil rights issues.  It is likely that he would continue this tendency if elected president.

As governor Patrick exploited the same liberal issues as Obama: climate change, state-run health care, gun control, redefining marriage, and abortion, accompanied by higher income taxes and greater regulation.  According to Forbes magazine, after eight years of Patrick, Massachusetts had a "lousy regulatory climate" and the highest cost structure for business in the U.S.

Ironically, after leaving office, Patrick joined Bain Capital, the investment firm co-founded by Mitt Romney.  During the 2012 campaign, Obama roundly attacked Romney's connection with Bain Capital, suggesting that a candidate who worked for Bain Capital was an out-of-touch elitist.  Would that apply to Deval Patrick as well?

I actually believe that Bain Capital may be a positive on Patrick's résumé, along with his legal work at Coca-Cola and Texaco.  Much of what came before seems to have been tied too closely to race.  We've been there already, and it hasn't done the country any good.  

So when the Dems run Obama 2.0 in 2020, let them be honest about his record.  We've heard enough of the "better way."  Expect no "better" from Patrick than we had from Obama.

Jeffrey Folks is the author of many books and articles on American culture including Heartland of the Imagination (2011).

Not surprisingly, Deval Patrick has been ordained by the Obama camp as the favorite for 2020.  As Obama 2.0, the former Massachusetts governor would bring the same failed policies as his mentor.  The danger is that by 2020, much of the electorate will have forgotten just how flawed those policies were.

And so a brief reminder:

First, Obama was fortunate enough to have inherited an economy that had begun to recover by the time he entered the White House in January 2009.  The economy would have recovered no matter who was president.  Obama's contribution was to make it the slowest post-recession recovery in 70 years.

GDP gains following postwar recessions have averaged 4.3%.  Growth under Obama averaged 2%.  So the economic growth the U.S. lost under Obama was at least 18.4% percent (4.3% minus 2% equals 2.3%, times 8, excluding compounding).

That growth deficit will continue to shadow those same Millennials and younger Gen Xers who helped elect Obama.  Compounded over a lifetime, that lost growth amounts to 4.5 times whatever growth was squandered under Obama (18.4% x 3% average growth x 50 years compounded).  Lost economic growth is the gift that keeps on giving.

Second, Obama was fortunate enough to have inherited a situation in the Middle East that had stabilized due to the Bush "surge."  Along with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Obama made a shambles of the Middle East, destabilizing allies in Tunisia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Libya and plunging Syria into civil war.  None of this was helped by Obama's estrangement from our ally Israel.  In the Far East, he did no better, playing ostrich to the threat posed by China's militarization.  And now there is North Korea, also ignored for eight years. D id North Korea suddenly obtain missiles capable of striking the mainland U.S., or were they developed while Obama was intentionally looking the other way?  

Third, economic decline and foreign policy mismanagement were matched by cultural and civic decline.  Race relations had been improving up to 2009.  It is generally acknowledged that race relations declined under Obama.  Not since the 1960s has America seen such racial upheaval, as for example in Ferguson, Missouri, where rioting in response to legitimate police action was fueled by Obama's many attacks on the police.

Then there is Charlottesville, where a mob of nasty white supremacists was met by a mob of belligerent adversaries.  This confrontation was the result of eight years of reducing politics to the lowest common denominator.  Charlottesville was an ugly mêlée followed by a brutal vehicular assault.

A large part of the solution is for our leaders to resist the temptation of scoring political points off every act of violence.  Unfortunately, the response to Charlottesville, including Obama's recent tweet, represents just that sort of politicized response.  In the context of events, what the former president said is, I have the moral high ground.  I condemn haters on the right but keep quiet about those on the left (such as the Steve Scalise shooter and many of the Black Lives Matter assailants).

Under Obama, the conduct of politics declined with the president publicly slamming members of the opposing party and justices of the Supreme Court.  Then there was the former president telling us, again and again, that we could keep our doctor and our health care provider.  For millions, that turned out not to be true.

And, in addition, the "unmasking" opponents for political purposes.  To exploit the nation's intel services for political gain is, of course, illegal.  It is also a new low in the conduct of politics.  Like voter fraud and fake news, it undermines our democracy.

In sum, Obama's eight years were years of national decline.

Would Deval Patrick be any better?

Between 2007 and 2015, when Patrick was governor of Massachusetts, real GDP growth was less than one percent (0.96%).  By comparison, real GDP growth in Texas was 2.8%, nearly three times that of Massachusetts.  Could we reasonably expect Patrick to do better at the national level than he did in the Bay State?

The simplest measure of a state's success is population growth.  From 2007 to 2015, the population of Massachusetts grew from 6,432,000 to 6,794,000 (unofficial estimates), an annual population growth rate of 0.56%.  Compare that to Texas: 23.83 million to 27.43 million, or 1.51% annual growth, again nearly three times that of Massachusetts.

Clearly, the Dems should be running Rick Perry.  But then he doesn't quite fit the liberal mold.  All he can do is bring about enormous prosperity, security, and happiness to 25 million Texans.  

Patrick has no significant foreign policy experience, but then neither did Obama, and Obama managed to create the worst instability overseas since the Korean War.  Maybe Patrick can expand on that.

On race, Patrick, who was assistant attorney general for the civil rights division under Bill Clinton, has made a career out of civil rights issues.  It is likely that he would continue this tendency if elected president.

As governor Patrick exploited the same liberal issues as Obama: climate change, state-run health care, gun control, redefining marriage, and abortion, accompanied by higher income taxes and greater regulation.  According to Forbes magazine, after eight years of Patrick, Massachusetts had a "lousy regulatory climate" and the highest cost structure for business in the U.S.

Ironically, after leaving office, Patrick joined Bain Capital, the investment firm co-founded by Mitt Romney.  During the 2012 campaign, Obama roundly attacked Romney's connection with Bain Capital, suggesting that a candidate who worked for Bain Capital was an out-of-touch elitist.  Would that apply to Deval Patrick as well?

I actually believe that Bain Capital may be a positive on Patrick's résumé, along with his legal work at Coca-Cola and Texaco.  Much of what came before seems to have been tied too closely to race.  We've been there already, and it hasn't done the country any good.  

So when the Dems run Obama 2.0 in 2020, let them be honest about his record.  We've heard enough of the "better way."  Expect no "better" from Patrick than we had from Obama.

Jeffrey Folks is the author of many books and articles on American culture including Heartland of the Imagination (2011).

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