Obama Wins. But At What Cost?

In a disturbing result bearing ominous portents for the economic, social and military stability of the United States — and, to an extent, the rest of the Western world — President Barack Obama has been re-elected by the narrowest of margins. His new four-year term promises to be a rough ride.

Is this a legitimate win by Obama? Of course it is; he won the popular vote, the votes in most of the so-called “swing states,” and he won the electoral college.

There is a saying in Australia that Australians get the governments they deserve; I’d imagine many Americans would be saying the same thing right about now. But enough of them voted for Obama to re-elect him and so, for the next four years, the rest of them are stuck with him.

Aren’t we all?

The Red And The Blue, whilst heartily disappointed that Obama remains as President, nevertheless wishes to extend congratulations to him on his election win today; at the very minimum, we can at least say it is the last time such pleasantries will be required.

Because whilst Obama is a good and decent man, his ideas leave everything to be desired, and with the mess the United States is in at present it is to be hoped the honourable gentleman deploys a rather different approach to the next four years to the last four.

This election really mattered; the US economy is in the toilet, for starters.

For all the talk of auto industry bailouts in Ohio, the wider economic problem persists: stubbornly high unemployment, sluggish economic growth, negligible domestic consumer confidence, the obscene practice of printing dollars to artificially deflate the US economy, and federal debt running at 107% of GDP.

In turn — to a country like Australia — these measures translate to an overvalued currency that hurts Australian businesses (whilst nonetheless failing to effect the intended correction in the US), softening export markets, sagging inbound tourism numbers, and an increased cost of capital for businesses and banks operating in this country. Just to name a few of the ill-effects of President Obama.

Are there other partners of the US on whom this administration has not adversely impacted? I doubt it.

It is true that Obama inherited an economy from George W. Bush in a disparate state, partly on account of the so-called GFC, which in turn was partly the result of poor prudential regulation in the USA by administrations of both political stripes stretching over decades.

In short, after four years, Obama should have made a difference.

The fact that his administration has failed to do so has nothing to do with George W. Bush, or the Republican Party, or the GFC.

But it has much to do with the fact Obama isn’t a leader’s bootlace: even in the first part of his term, with control of Congress, he enacted nothing which has proven to be of economic benefit in the latter.

Rather, it has been more important to play games, blame Republicans, reject negotiated outcomes and consensus measures, and engage in the rhetoric of utopian left-wing social nirvana.

The rhetoric, mind; aside from the detested so-called Obamacare package, Obama has achieved little in terms of meaningful outcomes.

This is an administration that has failed to pass a budget in almost four years; never mind the fact the US Constitution says it will be done once per year.

This is an administration under whose watch government debt has ballooned to US$16 trillion, or 107% of GDP.

This is an administration which has overlooked its traditional allies in favour of currying sympathy with the regimes of murderous despots in the hope appeasement will simply make them disappear from the radar.

And this is an administration which has actively hacked away at the US defence capability and the budget that underpins it, and this includes the strategic forces — at a time when emerging and resurgent rivals in China and Russia are expanding or modernising their capabilities, and at a time when the US and its allies face unprecedented security threats from a range of malevolent entities across the world.

And the snub of Israel — and, by extension, of the Jewish people generally — is despicable.

Yet this has been the face of government in the US for four years, and so it will be for another four.

We believe that Mitt Romney was a flawed yet worthy candidate; whether he was or not, however, is immaterial, on one consideration: after the past four years, anyone could have done better than Obama has.

And so the buck stops with Obama — again.

We hope that in the coming four years, Obama embraces the spirit of bipartisanship, because if he doesn’t, nothing will get done in Washington.

Unlike other democracies, Obama does not have the option of early elections to fall back on.

And in any case, an insistence on his way or the highway — when the US really isn’t in good shape anyway — simply won’t cut it.

Obama might be President, but he also has a responsibility to uphold his country’s constitution, and to govern for all of its citizens — not simply a select few.

And if that means working with his enemies in Congress, so be it: the buck stops with Obama.

It is to be hoped that the left-wing social agenda is to be put aside in deference to four years of grinding, orthodox, dour government delivering services, policy outcomes and tangible results.

And it needs to be pointed out that the black and Latino and other communities which have voted for Mr Obama — and which experience disproportionately extreme levels of poverty and unemployment compared to the national average — now have Obama and his Democratic Party to blame for their continuing plight, and not the white establishment historically held out as responsible for their misfortune.

For if Obama is their “saviour” then save them he must — and to fail them is to commit a flagrant moral breach of trust with those who have entrusted him with helping them to improve their lot as citizens of the American republic.

Mitt Romney — accepting his party’s nomination for the Presidency back in September, pointed out that

“President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans…and to heal the planet. My promise is to help you and your family.”

For everybody’s sake, Obama would be well advised to forget about this ridiculous and undeliverable mantra of contemporary socialist posturing, and get on with helping the families of his countrymen.

There are plenty of inherent risks in the continuation of this Presidency. None of us really wants to see them played out. But unless he changes tack now, Obama is doomed to fail. The consequences could be disastrous.

So much for a triumph.

Secretly, perhaps Obama wishes this was the election he might have lost.

Congratulations again, Mr President.

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5 thoughts on “Obama Wins. But At What Cost?

  1. It’s amazing how little you understand what you are talking about. Massive amounts of that debt were incurred before Obama even took office. What’s more, it has been Europe and state-level austerity that has dragged the US economy down over the last couple of years. Private sector job growth has been relatively robust, but states have been slashing public sector jobs at such a rate that the private sector can’t make up for it. The stimulus package at the beginning of his first term blunted peak of unemployment and kept the country from suffering what Europe has. The UK in particular, with its double dip, shows that Keynes was right. On Israel, saying that Bebe Netanyahu is difficult to work with is hardly a snub of the whole nation of Israel, and a snub of Israel is hardly a snub of the Jewish people in general. Obamacare is no where near as unpopular as you think, and the vast majority of the individual provisions are quite popular when polled separately from the package.

    As for accomplishments, here are a few: He ended the war in Iraq, set an end date for Afghanistan, eviscerated al Quaeda, authorised the killing of Osama bin Laden, authorised the virus use with (gasp!) Israel against Iran, obtained international support for sanctions against Iran. This last was accomplished by his canny attempt to talk with them; without that, many countries wouldn’t have signed on. He helped topple Gaddafi with no support from Republicans. He pushed through the bailout of GM and Chrysler (working with the UK, Germany, and (IIRC) Australia), which saved the American auto industry from collapse, and the economy of the Midwest along with it. He ended “enhanced interrogation”, a stain that will not be completely gone for generations. He’s begun the transition from Euro-centrism to a more Pacific-based focus.

    Obama took the costly banker middlemen out of the student loan process and introduced some measure of fairness into the student loan system. He ended the embarrassing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy during a particularly effective 2011 lame duck session. He ended a bizarre anomaly in discrimination law created by the Supreme Court a few years earlier whereby the statute of limitations ran from the time pay discrimination began, even if the employee had no way to know at the time there was a disparity. He has pushed a green agenda within and without government, including forcing departments to conserve energy (which saves money too).

    If you really want more, I can certainly provide same.

    • Rich, we haven’t seen you for some time; I hope you’re well.

      Honestly though…Barack Obama — despite his considerable personal merits — has been a terrible President; and to be frank, half the stuff you list out here either misses the point or offers no refutation at all to that basic premise.

      Significantly, much of what you seem to list out as “achievements” come back to the tired old left-wing agenda I am talking about: stimuli, the rectitude of Keynes (er, I don’t think so…), and discredited green and environmental causes…this stuff simply doesn’t work. Obama might be “(transitioning) from Euro-centrism to a more Pacific-based focus” as you say, yet the United States is increasingly being operated like a European socialist state.

      Iraq and Afghanistan — nothing that wouldn’t have happened anyway. “Eviscerating” al-Qaeda? Criticise W all you like, but he was well on the way to achieving precisely that when he left office. Killing Osama bin Laden? Lucky strike, in that US forces were always going to find him, and Obama was fortunate it occurred on his watch. No President in his right mind was ever going to tell the US public “We found him folks — we spared his life and let him go.” Of course he issued the order to kill bin Laden.

      Four years on, Obama has not visited Israel and has paid lipservice to the Jewish communities in the United States which, in turn, shifted their support almost as a bloc to Romney. Netanyahu might be difficult to work with, but there’s a difference between that on the one hand, and granting dozens of exemptions to sanctions against Iran on the other. Israel is existentially frightened of Iran — rightly so — and the mixed messages emanating from the upper echelons of government in the US are scarcely going to be interpreted in Tel Aviv as ones of wholehearted support.

      I might have a difference of opinion to yours — a fundamental philosophical difference at the basic level — but that doesn’t mean I don’t know what I’m talking about. Debt increased by 60% in Obama’s first term, irrespective of the merits or otherwise of his predecessor’s administration. Obama might be a lame duck now, but he had full control of Congress for two years. There is little evidence of the efficacy of his economic policies given that debt load of $16 trillion continues to spiral.

      Then again, it might simply be that we are both calling it as we see it — from very different perspectives. And, whilst I disagree with you completely, that’s the point. :)

  2. The free-marketeering, carpet-bagging, conservatives have been defeated again! Now if we can just do the same with Phoney Tony and his NO Coalition, 2013 will be a pretty good year all round!
    A Republican Romney in the White House with the conservatives aggression was something that we do not need in the World and particularly in the Asia-Pacific region.
    Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty — thanks goes to those Americans who voted Democrat!

  3. I think you’re being a tad too harsh on Obama. If McCain had been President instead of Obama, with a Democratic congress and Republican Senate, I doubt he would have had an easier ride. Obama did the best he could with the cards he was dealt. I think his crowning achievement was saving the car industry – he was criticised for the bailout loans, but was ultimately vindicated, with the loans fully repaid and the industry saved. That Romney criticised this, and stupidly published an op ed piece doing so, came back to haunt him.

    Deknarf, I have this to say to you re Phoney Tony – which is the Real Julia? And if the Coalition wins the next election, do you honestly expect Labor (in opposition) to green light everything the Coalition does? Not likely. No opposition is going to happily endorse the agenda of the governing party – that’s politics, pure and simple.

    Oh dear. I was mean about Julia. That must make me a misogynist.

  4. One question that comes to mind is “What will the Democrats do in 4 years time?”

    They intentionally made the election a race based voting preference with the African American and Hispanic demographies. The pre polling showed a 98% Obama vote for the African americans alone. Will they actually get out and vote for a white Democrat candidate in the next election?

    Or will it be that such a disaster is manifesting (maybe climate related) that like in WW2 the limit to Presidential Terms will be set aside? There are really some very scary parallels with another Cult of Personality on a different continent back in the 30s.

    People didn’t vote for the Democrats and they didn’t vote for policies, they voted for Obama personally. How many messiahs can the Democrats pull out of the hat.

    Deknarf, we dropped that “My side is always right” bulldust back in the 80s. Labors attempts at Americanising Aussie politics are backward steps.

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