Why is this not working for me?

Also posted on The Policy Think Site – http://jaygaskill.com/ObamaDepression.htm



Jay B Gaskill

In today’s (May 15, 2012) New York Times, columnist David Brooks acknowledges that by now the economic news alone would have crushed an ordinary incumbent, but that Obama remains strikingly competitive because of democratic demographics, and his own personal likability. Brooks writes that,

“Obama is far more popular than his policies.”

Why is this not working for me?

Let’s review some history:

Here are my notes from 2008, just before the Super Tuesday primary vote, as I posted them on a Policy Think Site blog.


“Who’s Who?” in the Presidential Wannabe Race

Hillary is Nixon without the anti-communism.

Obama is Carter without the southern governorship.

Edwards is a trial lawyer without a chance.

McCain is Truman without the charm.

Giuliani is Dewey without the wedding cake.

Romney is FDR without the wheelchair.

Thompson is an actor/lawyer without a TV gig.

Huckabee is a Republican Bill Clinton without the bimbo eruptions.

These were thematic capsules, concededly bit snarky, but containing at least as grain of truth.

It will be McCain or Romney against Clinton or Obama.


In 2008, after the nominations, I posted a list of what I called THE REAL ISSUES.  Here they are:

The Trade, Fiscal & Credit Deficit Time Bomb

We hear rhetoric only.  Yes we owe China half the national debt. Yes, we’ve promised benefits we can never fund.  But how – really – do we get out of this? We hear a resounding campaign silence from both camps.  This is because any practical solution involves short term sacrifice, mid-term sacrifice and long term sacrifice.  The bottom line: The country cannot afford to pamper its boomers and its leaders can’t afford to tell them that right now.

The Burning Crises – At least one of which will burn the new incumbent badly

[1] Real Estate Deflation Driven Credit Meltdown

Truth be told, the candidates are thrilled that the current administration and congress get to sweat this one out for now.  Neither candidate is willing to say the truth – that real estate prices were too high, and that the government just has to let them fall to meet incomes.  And neither candidate has a realistic clue about what to do next.

[2] Partial Collapse of American Auto Industry

Look for a partial bailout of GMC, Ford and/or Chrysler.  But without a massive commitment to nuclear power and a new electric grid, no manufacturer can afford to commit to a plug-in and drive strategy, which is the only technology “on the self’’ that can revolutionize the industry in the near to mid-term. A hydrogen powered transportation system?  Not for at least 15 years.  The economy can’t wait.

[3] Resurgence of Malignant Marxism

Marxism has broken out again in our hemisphere and it is in the interests of China and Russia – and even some Middle East mischief makers – to stoke that particular fire.  Ironically, communism, socialism and the other Marxist economic models have failed, yet petro-dollars have given the corpse artificial life.  Oil money has been just enough to resurrect this dismal, authoritarian way of life for one more shot at the American jugular.  The timing is good for our enemies because we are suffering from an acute form of the “nobody loves me” neurosis, made worse by the post-modern multiculturalism that acts like a “guilt virus”. What are the symptoms of this virus, you ask? They include policy ambivalence, addiction to the grand moral gesture and an aversion to self-assertion. Will we be cured in time? Stay tuned…

[4] Dangerous Oil Supply Vulnerability

Windmills and camp songs won’t get us out of this in time.  Unfriendly dictators and enemies hold most of the energy cards.  We’ve dithered for fifteen years, trapped in arguments about boutique issues other than national survival.  We need to actually build stuff that works.  And time’s up.



As an incumbent president, Obama has presided over the allocation of several trillion dollars in federal expenditures advertised as a bold remedy for the recession.  But high unemployment is chronic and chronically underreported. Underemployment is hugely higher than previous levels. Growth remains insufficient to employ the new job seekers entering the workforce, much less sufficient to reduce the size of the legions of the out-of-work.

Liberal economist Paul Krugman, a committed Obama supporter, is now calling our economic circumstances a “depression”. I quote –

So now we’re in another depression.” {New York Times, May 10, 2012.}

In today’s New York Times, columnist David Brooks acknowledges that by now the economic news alone would have crushed an ordinary incumbent, but that Obama remains strikingly competitive because of democratic demographics and his own personal likability.

Brooks writes that,

“12 percent of Americans approve of Obama even though they don’t think he has an agenda for moving us forward. In survey after survey, Obama is far more popular than his policies.”

Then Brooks adds this (I think untenable) explanation:

“…the secret to his popularity through hard times is that he is not melodramatic, sensitive, vulnerable and changeable. Instead, he is self-disciplined, traditional and a bit formal. He is willing, with drones and other mechanisms, to use lethal force.”

{See “The ESPN Man” – link: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/15/opinion/brooks-the-espn-man.html?_r=1&ref=opinion .}


I’m one of those democrats who saw my party drift so far to the left that it was unrecognizable, yet (like the conservative scholar Victor Davis Hanson) I still cling to my democratic registration (in my case, hoping against all reason that my primary votes will help move the party back to fiscal and foreign policy sanity).

The democratic demographic is much more fickle than Mr. Brooks realizes.  I vividly recall the first time I refused to vote for the democratic presidential candidate (Carter for one more term).  I couldn’t bring myself to vote for the GOP, so I voted Libertarian.  Believe me when I say that there is a great deal of seething dissatisfaction with this president among a large plurality of democrats.  They will never openly declare that they will vote against America’s first black president, but in the privacy of the ballot chamber, many will not be able to vote for him.

Leaving aside the merits of the gay marriage issue, I need to remind my liberal friends, and my fellow conservatives and centrists, that in California’s last gay marriage vote (Proposition 8), the same African American voters who overwhelmingly supported Obama overwhelming voted against gay marriage.  Yes, Mr. Obama can still count on that core constituency (part of the democratic demographic to which David Brooks referred), but turnout is everything, especially in the swing states.


The single most significant poll number to date in this election was just released by the Scott Rasmussen polling organization. The “…survey finds that 51% of Likely U.S. Voters trust Romney more than Obama when it comes the economy, while 39% trust the president more. Ten percent (10%) are undecided.”


{http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/elections/election_2012/election_2012_presidential_election/trust_on_issues_obama_v_romney .}

If Paul Krugman is right, then Obama is probably going to lose this election, because “It’s the economy, stupid”.


Copyright © 2012 by Jay B Gaskill, Attorney at Law

First published on The Policy Think Site and linked blogs.

Forwards, links and quotes with attribution are welcome and encouraged.  For everything else, please contact the author at law@jaygaskil.com .

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