Monday, November 5, 2012

Barack Obama May Be Headed for Victory. Why?

A slew of polls -- and a number of "admissions" by top Republicans that Hurricane Sandy helped stall Mitt Romney's "momentum" -- show that Barack Obama may have taken charge in the final days leading to tomorrow's election. If so, why?

Beyond the reality shown in the photo up above -- which palpably exudes compassion amid an overwhelming sense of desolation on all the faces, most especially Obama's and that of the lady he's comforting -- there exists an understanding among most Americans, enough Americans, that Barack Obama cares about people like us.

Mitt Romney has not successfully conveyed in any sense that he deserves such trust in him with our path forward. Why not? It's quite simple: He refused to tell us just who he actually is and what he truly believes. In fact, I've never witnessed in over a half century of watching political contests as cynical and contemptuous a display by a contestant in an election cycle. Who did he think he was kidding? The American people, that's who.

Timothy Geithner: Where did he go to, anyway?
At this point in an argument -- academically speaking, or not -- the other side would say something like, yeah, but Obama, blah, blah, and so on. I agree, a case can be made against him. What would that be?

I have felt a considerable amount of disappointment in the accomplishments of Barack Obama over the last four years, believe me. The stimulus was too small; his attempts, through Timothy Geithner and others, to mitigate the foreclosure crisis was ineffectual; Eric Holder's Department of Justice has been AWOL both in its approach to crimes of the previous administration as well as toward the frauds of both Wall Street and the banks; and I've been troubled, too, by the moral questions that surround the surreptitious black-ops war at hot spots around the world and the use of drones as a tool of assassination. These are all troubling.

Eric Holder: Not my favorite in the cabinet.
There are answers to many of these questions. In a financial crisis, maybe you have to save the big guys to stabilize the credit markets, even if the little guys get the shaft. Maybe you can't take over the government and arrest the last one. (Talk about turning into Greece.) Maybe in this era of asymmetrical warfare, black ops and drone strikes are necessary and beat the hell out of carpet bombing terrorist-supporting countries into oblivion.

But what Barack Obama has accomplished overwhelms these failings. He and his team did stabilize the credit markets. They did save the auto industry, which was no small feat. They did turn around the economy, turning losses of 800,000 jobs a month into 23 straight months of job gains, however inadequate the number to provide true economic growth. They did mitigate the pain on the state and local level and prevented the American educational system -- which depends on public dollars -- from imploding. And, of course, Obama's health care reform, though also flawed, is a good and necessary step toward providing affordable care for all, including millions and millions of uninsured that had been falling through the cracks for years. And by falling through the cracks, I do mean suffering and dying.

We also shouldn't forget that Barack Obama appointed two credible, moderate justices to the Supreme Court, and his appointment of Hillary Clinton as secretary of state has led to an era of undeniably competent and effective diplomacy. And Obama's general competency has been demonstrated by successes across many government agencies, big and small. As was shown in his Hurricane Sandy performance, we have a competent government, something we could not say about his predecessor.

Oh, Mitt, we hardly knew ye.
What did Mitt Romney offer? Aside from not being black -- admit it, this was at the core of the wholesale rejection of Barack Obama by a wide swath of the American public -- sorry, Mitt, not much. Mitt Romney has not established his authenticity or his credentials to lead the country. That's it in a nutshell. Where did he fail?

He thought he was the man to create jobs because Bain. He thought I don't have to show you my tax returns because Democrats. He thought he didn't have to tell us how his tax cut plan worked with out exploding the deficit because trust me. He thought he could say he was severely conservative because I'm not moderate except now yes I am. He said he was going to reform education because look over there a pony. You get the point.

You get it because Mitt Romney never made his point. He let Barack Obama define him using Bain Capital not because Obama was unfair but because it's hard to stand on a record of making millions picking winners and losers and then winning no matter what and stashing the money in the Cayman Islands or Swiss bank accounts. You can't offer a five-point plan and when people notice it's as empty as your suit just turn around and say he's going to burn down your churches and let Italians ship our Jeep jobs to China, which, if you don't mind my saying, just about sizes up his whole campaign, other than choosing Paul Ryan for the conservative tea partiers and then going wink, wink, I don't embrace the Ryan plan after all, or his beliefs on abortion. Sorry, Mitt, but that was a pretty sorry set of moves.

There's no question that it's possible -- Nate Silver puts the chances at about 15 percent -- that Mitt Romney might yet pull off an upset, but it would have to be just that, an upset. If he doesn't do that, and I suspect he won't, both he and his Republican Party should spend a long hard winter figuring out what went wrong and what they should do to fix it.

The Republican Party: No direction home?

But they won't do that. The Republican Party and its conservative base will explode, I suspect, in wholesale contempt toward Barack Obama and government in general. They may attack the entire process of elections and likely will say that the election was stolen. There is no end to the number of things the Republican Party might do before it begins to self-reflect. It's possible they never will and just as possible that they might not survive the process.

As for Mitt Romney, he's finished. He's toast, politically. He'll go back to his car elevators and his lakeside vacations with his fabulous wife and kids and grandkids. And when he does it, we won't know him any better than we did when this whole thing started.

Why? Because he never told us.


  1. I think Romney gives a lot of people a creepy feeling. Maybe the "empty suit" syndrome. Obama and Biden are people we can understand, whether we always agree with them or not. I could even understand (but not forgive) Bush's invasion of Iraq - "They tried to kill my daddy." And Ryan is a flat-out religious freak; really frightening to have him a heartbeat away.

    Here in New Jersey, we are proud of our (R) governor for dropping politics to ask for the help we need now, and proud of our (D) president for his prompt and generous response. Bipartisanship is a wonderful thing!

    1. It's interesting to hear a bipartisan voice that thinks of Romney as creepy. Thanks. It's a valid feeling!