By the Editors of The Casey Report, Casey Research
President Obama promised to turn around the floundering economy that he inherited from his predecessor. He promised jobs. He promised transparency. Not only did he not deliver on those campaign promises, he has led the nation further into the abyss on all counts. Today we are less prosperous, deeper in debt, and enjoy fewer liberties than when Obama first stepped into the Oval Office. His own party is losing faith in the messiah.
You can see that loss of faith in the steady downward trajectory of Obama's approval ratings. While Democrats can take heart from the fact that no truly viable candidate has emerged from the GOP, it's clear that "Hope and Change" will not be sufficient to rally the electoral troops for Obama again in 2012. Voters are hurting, and Obama's claims that the blame lies with George W. Bush no longer provide any solace.
Not only is the president's own reelection in jeopardy, his sagging polls are dragging down other Democrat candidates as well. Republican Bob Turner handily took Anthony Weiner's seat in New York's 9th Congressional District, a district that had been a Democrat stronghold since 1923. New York's 9th District has previously been represented by such Democrat stalwarts as Chuck Schumer and Geraldine Ferraro. During the special election for Weiner's seat, Obama had only 31 percent approval in that district, although he won there with 55 percent of the vote in the 2008 presidential election.
A Democrat pollster attributed Turner's win to "the incredible unpopularity of Barack Obama dragging his party down in the district." Similarly, Republican Scott Brown took the Massachusetts seat that had been held by Ted Kennedy for almost 46 years. Brown's win was attributed in large part to widespread discontent over Obama's policies, particularly Obamacare.
A Democrat strategist is warning his clients not to run in 2012. He said, "I don't want to see good candidates lose by 12 to 15 points because of the president." Pete Sessions (R-TX), National Republican Congressional Campaign chairman, said, "This clear rebuke of President Obama's policies delivers a blow to Democrats' goal of making Nancy Pelosi the speaker again. An unpopular President Obama is now a liability for Democrats nationwide in a 2012 election that is a referendum on his economic policies."
The New York Times has observed that no incumbent president since FDR has won reelection with unemployment over 7.2%. Keep in mind that unemployment is actually much higher than the officially reported 9.2%. Other presidents have recovered from low approval ratings and high unemployment and still won reelection, but that will not happen here.
The steps necessary to turn the economy around are antithetical to Obama and his collectivist, big-government philosophy. He will not make a 180-degree change in direction, so there is virtually no way unemployment will fall at all, not to mention substantially, before the election. Nor does he have any plans on the drawing board by which his popularity will rise. Instead, Obama berates a "do-nothing" Congress, including a Democrat majority in the Senate, for not passing his jobs bill – another dose of the same toxic medicine that has brought us to the economic doldrums where we languish today.
Even if Obama turns out to be his party's standard bearer in 2012 and wins the election, he is likely to enter his second term having to deal with Republican majorities in both the House and Senate. Lacking the political skills of Bill Clinton, who similarly faced a Republican Congress, Obama would spend four years in a standoff with an intractable legislature – truly a do-nothing president.
Many of those who so enthusiastically supported Obama in 2008 now have buyer's remorse. They could have had Hillary. Obama himself may be having second thoughts. He told NBC's Ann Curry that "there are days where I say that one term is enough."
Obama told ABC News' Diane Sawyer that "I'd rather be a really good one-term president than a mediocre two-term president." It's fair to say that neither of those are realistic options. Neither really good nor mediocre remain within Obama's reach.
Early in his presidency, he told NBC's Matt Lauer that "if I don't have this done in three years, then this is going to be a one-term proposition." Clearly, he has not and cannot "have this done" in three years or four years. Looks like one term it is.
Obama has been compared to Harry Truman, who came from behind in 1948 to defeat Thomas Dewey for a second term in the White House. Truman ran successfully against a "do-nothing" Republican Congress. Obama is busy blaming this "do-nothing" Congress for not passing his jobs bill. Unlike Truman, who faced a GOP majority in both the House and Senate, Obama so far only has to deal with a Republican House. He still faces gridlock.
Obama has also been compared to Truman in 1952. Truman believed that he could have the nomination simply for the asking, but he was challenged and defeated in a New Hampshire primary by Estes Kefauver, a first-term senator from Tennessee. Shortly after that defeat, Truman withdrew from the race. Ostensibly, he withdrew in the best interest of the country and because he was concerned that he could not govern effectively for four more years because of his advanced age. In fact, Truman was deeply disliked. He had been unable to bring the Korean War to an end or tame the federal deficit, and faced charges of corruption and cronyism in his administration. Sound familiar?
Another parallel can be drawn to President Lyndon Johnson. Johnson was too much associated with the costly and unpopular Viet Nam war, and his Great Society was said to be a failure. He faced challenges from within his own party from Senators Eugene McCarthy and Bobby Kennedy, the brother of the assassinated president Johnson had replaced. On March 31, 1968, Johnson announced that "I shall not seek and will not accept the nomination of my party for another term as your president."
Democrat pollsters Patrick Caddell and Douglas Schoen, in a November 21, 2011 opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal, note that Truman and Johnson both "took the moral high ground and decided against running for a new term as president." They conclude that "President Obama is facing a similar reality – and he must reach the same conclusion."
Caddell and Schoen concede that…
Mr. Obama could still win re-election in 2012. Even with his all-time low job approval ratings (and even worse ratings on handling the economy), the president could eke out a victory in November. But the kind of campaign required for the president's political survival would make it almost impossible for him to govern – not only during the campaign, but throughout a second term. Put simply, it seems that the White House has concluded that if the president cannot run on his record, he will need to wage the most negative campaign in history to stand any chance. With his job approval ratings below 45% overall and below 40% on the economy, the president cannot affirmatively make the case that voters are better off now than they were four years ago. He – like everyone else – knows that they are worse off.
They urge the president to "abandon his candidacy for re-election in favor of a clear alternative, one capable not only of saving the Democratic Party, but more important, of governing effectively and in a way that preserves the most important of the president's accomplishments. He should step aside for the one candidate who would become, by acclamation, the nominee of the Democratic Party: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton."
They note, "Having unique experience in government as first lady, senator and now as Secretary of State, Mrs. Clinton is more qualified than any presidential candidate in recent memory, including her husband. Her election would arguably be as historic an event as the election of President Obama in 2008."
That Schoen and Caddell are Democrat pollsters who worked, respectively, for Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter is all the more telling of the mood in the party. They claim to "write as patriots and Democrats – concerned about the fate of our party and, most of all, our country. We do not write as people who have been in contact with Mrs. Clinton or her political operation. Nor would we expect to be directly involved in any Clinton campaign." They conclude that "not only is Mrs. Clinton better positioned to win in 2012 than Mr. Obama, but she is better positioned to govern if she does."
Hillary, however, will supposedly have none of it. She told CBS' White House correspondent Norah O'Donnell she would not consider running for president. She said, "I had a great run, I was very grateful that I could do that. I felt just really good about the experience, but that was then and this is now, and I'm looking forward."
Caddell and Schoen will not be swayed, however. "If President Obama is not willing to seize the moral high ground and step aside, then the two Democratic leaders in Congress, Sen. Harry Reid and Rep. Nancy Pelosi, must urge the president not to seek re-election – for the good of the party and most of all for the good of the country. And they must present the only clear alternative – Hillary Clinton."
Will Obama seize the high moral ground and step aside? Not likely. He is probably incapable of blaming himself for his predicament. He could be forced aside, perhaps by the threat of a scandal (Solyndra, MF Global, and illegal actions by his attorney general and Department of Justice). He seems even now to have trouble understanding what went wrong. He has apparently not yet considered the possibility that the luminaries with whom he has surrounded himself, including Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, could simply be mistaken about how the world works.
Oddly, a do-nothing president is just what we need, but of a different sort than Obama. The answer to most of the difficult questions about government is that government has no business doing whatever it is in the first place. Of the crop of Republican contenders, only Congressman Ron Paul and New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson acknowledge that reining in the lumbering, overreaching behemoth that our government has become is the real challenge facing the next president. Other Republican hopefuls pay lip service to whittling government down to size but not by the drastic steps that are now not only necessary but overdue.
Indeed, our government has now become so hostile and damaging to its citizens that one could fairly argue that we would be better off with almost no government at all. As Grover Norquist famously stated: "I don't want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub."
Both Ron Paul and Gary Johnson are seen as not being presidential material because they are unwilling to perpetuate longstanding scams. They are thought not to be presidential material because they don't understand how the game is played or, if they do, because they are unwilling to play it. Admittedly, presidential politics has been such an extremely complex and convoluted affair that it seems only sophisticated players can handle it, but that is exactly what is wrong here.
[Obama's policies are clear on one point: he seeks to continue slyly draining investors' assets through inflation. There are ways to circumvent it – if you're willing to learn how to make friends with shifting trends.]