In 2008 Senator Barack Obama’s historic campaign centered on “hope” and “change” and captivated millions. Now three years into his presidency Obama can scarcely claim to have delivered either of them. It is an interesting predicament for the president, now facing re-election, in that these same feel-good platitudes will not serve him in 2012.
Not only has President Obama continues many Bush-era policies, he has expanded government powers such as warrantless GPS tracking and using U.S. military forces in Libya without congressional approval. The Guantanamo Bay facility is still open and Obama has reversed his pledge to discontinue military tribunals for terrorists in favor of civilian trials in federal court. That is hardly the “change” that Obama’s voter base was supporting. Rather it is “more of the same” policies that they were supposedly rejecting with their vote for Obama.
Nor is America filled with much “hope.” A majority still feels America is on the wrong track (81%) and the economy is virtually stagnant. Obama now claims to have pulled the U.S. out of a recession, but unemployment is relatively unchanged with new jobs being created by self-employment rather than by large firms. The president is vainly attempting to spin his economic policies as somehow successful. But it is the American people themselves that are responsible for these meager gains. For the president to claim responsibility for this reeks of desperation.
The one area where the president can claim “change” is the health care law, which divided this country and resulted in a mid-term election trouncing of the President’s party. Any “hope” of bipartisan cooperation or consensus was lost in the rush to accomplish any of the president’s agenda. Far from creating “hope” it created animosity and only added fuel to the hyperpartisan bonfire.
“Hope” and “change” as buzzwords won’t help Obama now. They will only remind voters of his failure to deliver them. Nor is his record one upon which a strong campaign can be based. I have to agree with Peggy Noonan that it seems, at this point, that Obama’s best campaign hope lies in the GOP selecting a poor candidate to oppose him – a person easy for the left to demonize, and therefore frighten the electorate into voting for Obama once again.
Should the GOP seize this opportunity and nominate a serious and intelligent candidate (like Jon Huntsman) then the Obama 2012 campaign will be in serious trouble – robbed of the fear tactic and unable to dust off previously used, worn out platitudes. Instead, faced with a strong GOP candidate with centrist appeal, Obama would be forced to defend a weak record of failed policies and broken promises – offering little more than “more of the same.”