January 5, 2011
Will Obama Be a One-Term President?
The pummeling the Democrats suffered this past November has convinced many a voter that Barack Hussein Obama is destined to be a one-term president. For the sake of the country's well-being, I can only pray that this verdict comes to fruition. Regrettably, though, I am not persuaded that it will.
Assuming that the Republicans are successful in impeding the president's leftist agenda -- an achievement that can't fail to mark an improvement in the nation's welfare -- it is nothing less than a foregone conclusion that the narcissistic Obama, like his equally self-obsessed predecessor, Bill Clinton, will take credit for it. That Obama won't hesitate to confiscate what doesn't belong to him is, after all, one of the principal reasons why the Democrats were just run out of town on a rail.
Yet this is far from the weightiest of considerations to which the president's opponents should attend. More importantly, for however unpopular Obama may be -- and, while I hate to admit it, the truth is that he is not that unpopular -- the majority of the electorate will cast their vote for him if the alternative is insufficiently appealing. But to judge from the names of Republican presidential contenders that have thus far been bandied about, it would appear that Obama may not have it quite as hard as present circumstances would seem to suggest.
Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin, and -- of all people! -- Newt Gingrich, to identify just some of the more popular names, are to a man (and woman) deeply flawed candidates.
That Romney managed to secure the governorship of the bluest of the fifty states should suffice to dispel from the mind of even the most casual of political observers the very suspicion that there is so much as a modicum of conservatism in his political DNA. Given the role that so-called "independents" and "moderates" play in national elections, perhaps this wouldn't ordinarily be such a bad thing. Yet that "ObamaCare" is going to be at least a key issue, if not the key issue, in the next election means that even these "kingmakers" may not be all that sympathetic to old Mitt, for not only was Romney a singular failure at distinguishing himself from any given Democrat during his tenure as governor, but his enactment into law of "RomneyCare" was enough to make not a few Democrats blush.
Huckabee is even more difficult to take seriously. It is true that to the advantage of being able to claim, like Romney, executive experience, he can add the asset of having presided as governor over a relatively conservative Southern state. But governing a conservative state and governing as a conservative are two entirely distinct matters, and the latter is not a credential that Huckabee can, in good conscience, include in his résumé. Besides this, Huckabee is a Fox News personality, a fact that could turn off "independents" and "moderates."
Being the former governor of a red state isn't the only similarity that Palin shares with Huckabee. Unfortunately for her, she too is a Fox News contributor, but in contrast to her colleague, her celebrity transcends the confines of Fox. There is no denying that as far as energizing Republican voters is concerned, Palin stands heads and shoulders above all of her male counterparts, but it is equally impossible to deny that this can be as much a liability as an asset. And since Palin's utterances -- not unlike those of most in the political arena, including Barack Obama -- are short on substance, her good looks coupled with her folksy vernacular strengthen the impression that she isn't particularly knowledgeable. This impression may or may not be accurate, and it is certainly unfair that her femininity makes her more susceptible to this reading than the legions of men who are equally deserving of it, but things are what they are.
As for Newt Gingrich, he is as articulate as any politician, certainly, and just as crafty, but at the end of the day, there is no circumventing the unpleasant reality that his is the face of the old Republican guard that Americans are resolved to eliminate. Furthermore, the messiness of his personal life renders Gingrich about as vulnerable to character assaults as any candidate could be.
Yet whether severally or collectively, the biggest problem with these candidates is that with the exception of vague references to "spending," there isn't one who has even attempted to specify the respects in which he or she differs from the Bush Republicans. From his efforts to characterize John McCain as a virtual replica of George W. Bush, Barack Obama was able to reap much fruit. Unless and until the Republicans effect a decisive departure from the vision of the last president, it is far from improbable that our current president will be successful at painting his next rival with the same brush.
In other words, my hunch is that either the Republicans resoundingly repudiate the "Compassionate Conservatism" of Bush 43, or else their battle for the White House in 2012 promises to be uphill.
Jack Kerwick, Ph.D. is currently a professor of philosophy at Rowan University, Penn State University, and Burlington County College and blogs at www.jackkerwick.com.