Barack Obama waves to visitors as he returns from campaign events in Virginia at the White House, Sept. 21, 2012.
Credits: REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
The U.S. election is five weeks away and right now anyone following (or trying to follow) the perambulations of the two campaigns — Democratic and Republican — is justified in being a bit bewildered.
From news accounts — TV, radio, newspapers — it would seem that Barack Obama has the lead to be re-elected president over Republican challenger Mitt Romney.
Indeed, the polls (at this writing) also show Obama increasing his edge.
According to Realclearpolitics.com, of 11 major pollsters in the U.S., only Rasmussen has Romney ahead (by one point). An average of the rest shows Obama favoured by 2.8 points. Compared to Obama’s 7.6-point lead over John McCain in 2008, 2.8 is pretty modest.
But compared to the public mood a year ago, Obama as the favourite now rates with Lazarus rising from the dead.
But is it real? A case can be made that it isn’t.
In 2008 there was an excitement about Obama, a lust for change, a belief that things would be different, a revitalization of “hope” in America after the years of George Bush bogged down in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
This time around there is none of the 2008 enthusiasm, which for Obama — or any incumbent president — translates into fewer votes, and more people staying home on Nov. 6. What is seen as Romney’s latest gaffe (we rarely hear about Obama’s boo-boos) are his remarks at a Republican fundraiser which were published last week by Mother Jones magazine. He said 47% of Americans will vote for the incumbent president regardless of issues, and that roughly 47% of Americans are dependent on government “who believe that they are victims, and who believe government has a responsibility to care for them.”
That’s a gaffe? Probably, because it may be too accurate. The Associated Press reports that 46% of Americans paid no income tax in 2011, and some 16 million elderly Americans avoid federal income taxes because of tax breaks that apply only to them.
An underlying message in Romney’s observation is that those who depend on government largesse will continue voting for the existing government. That isn’t necessarily true. Sometime “voters” are eager to bite the hand that feeds them.
There’s also lingering criticism that the Republican convention in Tampa offered little mention of the war in Afghanistan, and no obligatory tribute to America’s fighting forces.
That’s a phony issue, because Republicans don’t have to launch into jingoism to justify their support for the military, or their concern about defence and security.
Most who are in the military probably vote Republican, and all are aware that it was Obama who fired gung-ho General Stanley McChrystal, and dilly-dallied over reinforcements for Afghanistan, and announced the date for withdrawal which only encourages the Taliban to keep killing until they win.
Osama bin Laden was killed on Obama’s watch, but it was Navy SEALs who did it. (Jimmy Carter had nerve, too, when he OK’d the abortive rescue attempt of American hostages in Iran in 1980 that turned into a tragic fiasco).
Obama’s greatest allies in the remainder of the election campaign are the media, most of whom echo the Democratic line, and relish sniping at Republicans. It’s even debatable whether Obama’s tepid response to American missions in 20 countries being attacked by Muslim mobs, with one ambassador killed, reflects adversely on his presidency — especially when Romney can’t rouse himself into righteous indignation.
Insufficient passion in the guy.