Obama’s Fall and November

July 13th, 2010

By Tom Carter

Mort Zuckerman is a real estate billionaire, owns and publishes the New York Daily News, is editor-in-chief of U.S. News and World Report, is a frequent TV political commentator, and may have political ambitions.  He has all the expected goodies, to include multiple homes, a yacht, a private Gulfstream G550, and so on.  He’s also been known to keep company with the likes of Bianca Jagger and Arianna Huffington.  But I digress….

Politically, Zuckerman is a Democrat who holds a number of conservative views.  (His articles are worth reading.)  He endorsed and voted for Barack Obama, thought he had very high potential, and wanted him to do well.  Now, however, he’s among the very large number of Obama supporters who are disappointed and frustrated.  He detailed this in a recent article, “Obama Is Barely Treading Water.”  The article begins:

The hope that fired up the election of Barack Obama has flickered out, leaving a national mood of despair and disappointment. Americans are dispirited over how wrong things are and uncertain they can be made right again. Hope may have been a quick breakfast, but it has proved a poor supper. A year and a half ago Obama was walking on water. Today he is barely treading water. Then, his soaring rhetoric enraptured the nation. Today, his speeches cannot lift him past a 45 percent approval rating.

There is a widespread feeling that the government doesn’t work, that it is incapable of solving America’s problems. Americans are fed up with Washington, fed up with Wall Street, fed up with the necessary but ill-conceived stimulus program, fed up with the misdirected healthcare program, and with pretty much everything else. They are outraged and feel that the system is not a level playing field, but is tilted against them. The millions of unemployed feel abandoned by the president, by the Democratic Congress, and by the Republicans.

The American people wanted change, and who could blame them? But now there is no change they can believe in.

One of the key points Zuckerman makes is that history and current political realities strongly indicate that the Democrats are going to take a beating in November.  That’s what most people think, including leading Democrats.  The Republicans could take the majority in the House, and they’ll probably at least significantly increase their numbers in the Senate.  These are pretty safe bets, even though political prognostication is a dicey art at best.

So what happens then?  Let’s say we wake up on November 3 with Republicans having won a small majority in the House and more senators but less than a majority.  There’ll probably be a headless chicken flurry of activity in a lame-duck session, with Democrats trying to cram through some of their favored legislation.  Maybe Republicans and a sufficient number of chastened Democrats will prevent much from happening; maybe not.

Then when the 112th Congress meets on January 3, 2011 we’ll have divided government — not that it isn’t divided now, but then it’ll really be divided.  A House with a small majority of Republicans, a Senate with a small majority of Democrats, and President Obama in the White House.  Think the Republicans will be able to enact their agenda — assuming they had one?  No way.  Will congressional Democrats be able to smoothly and effectively advance the agenda of their president and their party?  Not a chance.  And in particular for Republicans and their Tea Party wing, dreams of repealing all or part of health care reform will be just that — dreams.

So, after January will we be able to take the essential tax and spending steps necessary to get the horrific debt under control?  Nope.  Confirm federal judicial nominees in a more professional and less comical way?  Pass reasonable energy and immigration bills that most Americans can support?  Enact regulatory reform that’s rational and useful rather than ideological and punitive?  You know the answers.

They only bright spot on the horizon is that Nancy Pelosi would not be Speaker of the House.


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10 Responses to “Obama’s Fall and November”



  1. Brian Bagent |

    There is a widespread feeling that the government doesn’t work, that it is incapable of solving America’s problems.

    That is the crux of the problem: government has demonstrated a profound inability to solve any problems, only create new ones, or exacerbate existing ones. The more cynical may be inclined to assign Hegelian dialecticism as the tool of our “betters”, but I am more inclined simply to assign mere avarice and myopia.

    Control the debt? Firstly, the debt will never be gotten under control because of the nature of our supply of money. Secondly, even if the supply weren’t an issue, we’d have to get spending under control first, and neither the democrats nor the republicans have shown much interest in that.

    There was a time when Americans’ only contact with the federal government was the weekly trip to the post office. I realize that we are unlikely to ever go back to that, but the less government we have, the better off we’ll all be, democrats and republicans alike.

    Expecting the government to “solve our problems” is like standing in a bucket and trying to lift ourselves by the handle.


  2. Tom Carter |

    We came out of the Clinton years with something approaching a surplus, and the debt was manageable. I know that had mostly to do with the dot.com boom and the housing bubble. Then Bush went through eight years taxing like a Republican and spending like a Democrat. That, combined with the dot.com bust and the collapse of the housing bubble with all the Wall Street chicanery that involved, and we got ourselves one hell of a recession.

    What we needed after Bush was a president with significant executive and management experience (maybe a very successful governor) and a Congress capable of sobering up and facing the huge economic hangover. We didn’t get any of that, so things haven’t gotten better. Even if the Republicans take over both the House and Senate (unlikely) in November and beat Obama in 2012 (iffy), I still don’t see the problem being dealt with unless we get a kick-butt former CEO and governor in the White House who can lead Congress in the right directions. Mitt Romney, anyone?


  3. Lisa |

    I would vote for Mike Huckabee who has extensive demonstrated executive experience as a governor and could win any debate with Obama and do so with a smile on his face. He is a person who can speak the issues and communicate with the people without a teleprompter and he has a great sense of humor. He has earned the trust of the people. Mitt Romney has the MA healthcare issue looming over his head and he appears wooden. But whoever that person is, it needs to be someone with executive experience, hopefully as a successful governor. Let’s remember, senators are glorified staff action officers who do not necessarily have executive command/governing experience.


  4. Brian Bagent |

    Lisa, my issue with Huckabee has to do with religion. I’m a devout Christian, and like I founders, believe that the republic must be comprised of a moral and religious people. However, I don’t think it should be central to politics because it distracts from the issues.

    I also think it a fool’s errand to equate Christianity with moral authority in governance. Christians, like everyone else, have feet of clay. We are as prone to lapses in judgment as anyone else, as prone to heeding bad advice, as prone to hubris and avarice as anyone else. I’m not saying Huckabee has any of those issues, just that his being a devout Christian doesn’t make him any more immune to those things than anyone else.

    I know you didn’t bring up his religious convictions, but should he run again, the left will pick up and run with it so as to distract from the real issues of governing. The same is largely true of Romney.


  5. Lisa |

    Brian, I agree with you. Every candidate will have something going against him/her. Aside from his executive experience, I think Huckabee is one who can best communicate with the overall population. After everything we have been through in the last 18 months, we need someone we can trust and who has the requisite experience and leadership to pull us out of the mess we are in. Huckabee is quick on his feet, unflappable and I think could win any debate with Obama.


  6. Matthew |

    Most of these prognostications about Obama’s downfall are nonsense.

    He’s already passed health care reform and financial reform (the most significant accomplishments to come out of Washington in decades).

    Yes, the Democrats will lose some seats in the House and Senate in November, but both houses will maintain Democratic majorities (sorry to disappoint you, Tom, but Nancy Pelosi will still be the Speaker of the House in January 2011).

    In 1982, the Republicans lost 26 House seats. Why is that significant? Because that was the first midterm following the election of Ronald Reagan.

    Like Reagan, Obama will easily win reelection when he runs in 2012.


  7. Brianna |

    “In 1982, the Republicans lost 26 House seats. Why is that significant? Because that was the first midterm following the election of Ronald Reagan.”

    In 1982, people were mad at Reagan because of the recession Reagan and Fed chairman Paul Volcker caused by raising interest rates to 17% to combat the stagflation of the 70s. This was nasty while it lasted, but it did kill stagflation and lead into an era of economic prosperity, which is doubtless why Reagan was reelected to a second term in a landslide.

    “Like Reagan, Obama will easily win reelection when he runs in 2012.”

    In order to combat this recession, the Fed has lowered interest rates to zero, doubled the country’s money supply, and engaged in massive federal spending… in short, the exact opposite of what Reagan did. Now, raise your hand if you think that Obama is going to be saved by a rebounding economy in order to get reelected in a landslide in 2012?


  8. Matthew |

    My hand is raised, Brianna.

    Why don’t we meet back here on November 7, 2012 and discuss how things turned out?


  9. Brianna |

    You honestly think we’re going to see a strong dollar and an economic boom in the next two years due to Obama’s and the Fed’s policies which will sweep the president back into office in a landslide victory?

    You’re on.


  10. Clarissa |

    The main problem is that there is hardly any difference at all between the Democrats and the Republicans. They both sit deep in the same pockets and serve the same interests. They are are both beholden to the same powers. They both use the public money to help out the same bunch of inept losers. Maybe now finally the American people are catching up to the sad reality that politically they do not have a choice.


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