Back in 2008 a very hopeful Senator Obama was dishing out some awe-inspiring comments on the campaign trail. College students and middle-aged Democrats everywhere were biting off heavy amounts of “change we can believe in” hoping for a brand new era of government that would emerge from the burst of the housing bubble, the Wall Street fiasco and bailouts, the auto industry bailouts, and one of the worst recessions and longest wars the the dot com generation has witnessed so far. Today it seems that Obama is ahead in the polls as we’re two months out from the 2012 elections, but that hasn’t stopped skepticism from running its course.
It’s a matter of fact that whoever is the president during a recession will take all of the blame when it comes to a dying economy, which is why Obama is at the receiving end of all the pointed fingers lately (especially as Republicans are trying to paint him as a failure). Despite empirical evidence that shows how recessions tied to housing bubbles are the slowest to recover, frustrated people start to believe anyone who speaks slowly and confidently and blames Obama for the country’s problems.
Earlier this year Obama was traveling the country on what republicans were calling the “don’t blame me” and the “not my fault” tour. At every stop he made, Obama was trying to explain how policies and procedures that were implemented before him (like the pull-out date of Iraq, for example) were unchangeable, and that legislative decisions could not be implemented even if he wanted to because of a congress that was literally ordered (by internal controllers) to not support anything Obama put on the table. This was quite a strategy, of course: by not supporting the president for most of his presidency, come re-election time they could say that he was a failure (which is exactly what they’re doing!).
Now the political climate is rich with dog-eat-dog political ads from both sides of the arena, and Republicans have once again dug into the heels of Obama’s “failed” presidency by outlining all of the promises that he made that he didn’t keep. What’s interesting to me is that the Republican National Committee and Mitt Romney both are focusing heavily on Obama’s 2009 pledge to cut the deficit in half by the end of his first term, which absolutely could have happened if he was allowed to end the Bush-era tax cuts like he planned. Unfortunately for Democrats rooting for “change we can believe in” when it came to the economy, Obama has had to cater to the powers that be and bend on a lot of issues when it comes to taxation, the war, and health care. Go figure: those are all some of the biggest sources of income and spending.
As we sit two months out from the presidential elections I can’t help but think about all the things that Obama had pledged to do and talked about that he wasn’t able to do during his first term. As a politician it’s in his best interest to ensure at least the impression of bipartisanship if he intends to serve a second term. Once re-elected, what will we come to expect from an Obama if he doesn’t have to worry about Republican popularity?
- He made an executive decision to repeal DADT; will he also attempt to take down DOMA?
- The Affordable Care Act and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act has strengthened protections for woman’s rights, but what will he take an active stance on their erosion at the state level?
- Remember the Keystone Oil pipeline debacle? What new ways will Obama tackle alternative energy and oil dependence?
- He campaigned on peace but ran a pretty bloody 1st term. Will that change?
- Will he tackle the decriminalization of marijuana?
- Will he finally close Guantanamo Bay?
- Will his administration reverse its support for a costly war or drugs?