LOOSE CANNON vs. NO CANNON
ONE TERM FOR OBAMA?
Voters fear a “loose cannon”, which is how Lyndon Baines Johnson defeated Barry Goldwater so soundly in that watershed 1964 election. And they disdain mere association with failure, which is why John McCain went down with George W Bush after the financial collapse, and why Hubert Humphrey, the LBJ stand-in, lost to Richard Nixon, and why Gerald Ford (a decent man tainted by R. Millhouse) lost to Jimmie Carter in 1976.
And more than anything, voters hate weakness coupled with failure, which is why Jimmie Carter lost to Ronald Reagan in 1980. No cannon at all loses to a loose one every time.
Every one of these examples is on the political analysts’ tables as president Obama struggles though the first year of his first – and as democrats now secretly acknowledge – quite possibly his last term as POTUS.
The Campaign Obama was the impossible dream: He was seen as a “cautious cannon” (a man of peace who would abandon Iraq in a measured and thoughtful way), a winner with the wind at his back, an idealist who would sweep in everything we have always wanted, a liberal to be sure, but a chaste one who wouldn’t f..k things up..
The post-election Obama has all too quickly mutated into an entirely different persona. Non-partisan voters are concluding that our new POTUS is an impractical dreamer. To them (note that the independents who elected this president now overwhelmingly disapprove of his job performance), President Obama is seen as cautious and moderate only in tone. His rhetoric and policy are seen as increasingly self-contradictory. Now some mutation is allowed in politics…over time. But when it happens so quickly, many are led to suspect that we have a chameleon in the White House…or even worse, someone who is having “decision issues”.
Independents have already formed an opinion that may be difficult for Mr. Obama to dislodge: that our new president was a closet ideologue all along, a stealth radical liberal, hidden in plain sight.
Knowing that perception becomes reality all too soon, Mr. Obama has made some conspicuous gestures to the political center, designed to show that, at heart, he is more pragmatic realist than a member of the Jeremiah Wright chorus. He will close Guantanamo…someday. He will smite the Taliban in Afghanistan…maybe. He will abandon the public option…maybe. He will cut those dangerous deficits…maybe. Given the fervent utopian enthusiasm of the left wing of the Democratic Party, this comes off as betrayal.
Political capital can be spent, but gradually restored. Trust, once betrayed, is simply lost.
The current heath care struggle is a case in point: The pending legislation is a complex, expensive mess.
The latest anxiety about too much preventative diagnosis for women has struck a raw nerve. Women who are at risk for breast, cervical and uterine cancer are an intelligent, well-informed and vocal subset of the electorate. They immediately picked up on the implications of the new “recommendations” for a diagnostic retreat in these sensitive areas. They are thinking: We’re being softened up for health care rationing. We haven’t been told the truth about “health care reform”. Maybe we should no longer trust this president.
The worst possible outcome for President Obama and the democrats would be for the current push for a major overhaul of our health care system to succeed. Payroll tax increases, higher premiums, more health care delivery bureaucracy and a .8 trillion dollar underfunded entitlement DURING A DEEP RECESSION TEETERING ON THE PRECIPICE OF DEPRESSION?
To paraphrase Senator Kerry when he ranted about the Iraq War, this is the wrong legislation, addressing the wrong problem at the wrong time. Not a chance this won’t come back to bite everyone who supported it.
My advice to those who want the president to succeed in his presidency: Pray that on this at least –he fails.