Will Obama Suffer Sarkozy's Fate?
The Washington Post is onto something. Is it possible that the election of Francois Hollande as French president might doom Barack Obama's re-election?
Post reporter, Scott Wilson, wrote on Monday:
The shrill anti-incumbent message that has emerged from a pair of European elections carries a threat to the U.S. economic recovery and a political warning for President Obama, whose reelection prospects could hinge on whether the economy can improve.
The other election Wilson refers to was in Greece.
Speculation about Europe's impact on Mr. Obama's election prospects is simple. Rumblings that full-blown profligacy is returning to Western Europe makes trouble in the short term. A return to unrestrained borrowing and spending in Europe would hasten the day of a financial crash.
Pledging to rev-up borrowing, debt, and printing more Euros roils markets, in Europe and in the U.S. Roiled American financial markets aren't good for the economy or Mr. Obama's "Forward" campaign ("Forward" to an economic cliff). Quicker financial and economic decline in Europe will inevitably have adverse spillover in the U.S.
When that spillover happens is hard to determine, but European voters are sealing their nations' fates with votes for anti-fiscal responsibility leftists. There is, ominously, growing opposition to Chancellor Merkel's government in Germany and Prime Minister Cameron's government in Great Britain.
As Nile Gardiner wrote in London's The Telegraph:
Hollande's victory spells trouble ahead for both Angela Merkel and David Cameron, who face general elections in 2013 and 2015 respectively. Both Merkel and Cameron have championed the need for budget cuts in the face of Europe's massive debt crisis, and face growing domestic opposition to their support for austerity measures. If Merkel falls in the Autumn of next year, the balance of power within the EU will shift dramatically to the Left, with Britain and Spain as the two leading conservative-led governments in Western Europe confronting a re-engineered Franco-German axis that would back greater stimulus measures as a solution to Europe's problems.
A push for "greater stimulus measures" in Europe is in line with what President Obama has sought in the U.S. -- until a GOP takeover of the U.S. House stymied him.
Again from The Washington Post article:
Merkel has chided Obama in the past for his stimulus spending, even as the left wing of his party calls for far more to create jobs and drive down unemployment.
But European electorates, who have helped caused [sic] the collapse or electoral defeat of a series of governments in recent months, are moving swiftly toward the more pro-growth position that Hollande and others have embraced.
It's not so much that The Washington Post frets about Hollande's and Europe's voters moving back to "pro-growth" positions (growing government and debt), which dovetail nicely with Mr. Obama's thinking; it's that Mr. Obama might be compared unfavorably to Socialist Hollande by Mitt Romney and other Republicans, which could harm the president at the polls.
But a return to fiscal free-spending in Europe is more than a perception problem for President Obama. There's a more tangible adverse economic impact for the president's re-election chances.
As Nile Gardiner is quoted in The Washington Post story:
"This will lead to months of economic uncertainty and turmoil in Europe, which will have a direct impact on the U.S. markets, as well," said Nile Gardiner, director of the Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom at the Heritage Foundation.
Economic trouble - or unease by voters anticipating trouble - is precisely what Mr. Obama's re-election campaign doesn't need. The economy is king of the issues for American voters in 2012.
Francois Hollande and Europe's shift left might just help un-elect Barack Obama in November.