Why Would You Want to Win?

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Whenever I speak with my father about these elections, I always ask his opinion about Obama’s chances of winning. And ever since early January of this year, he has always had the same response, “Why would Obama want to win?” His argument was, even way back nine months ago, that whoever wins would face two insurmountable obstacles making reelection in 2012 almost impossible. The first was a nasty and complicated Iraq pull out, and the second was an economic recession and financial crisis.

It appears that we are already in said financial crisis. And if my father’s assessment is correct, things don’t look great for Obama because McCain looks even worse.

Today on This Week with George Stephanopoulus, even George Will — the conservative pundit — was speaking Obama’s praise and severely criticizing McCain’s clumsiness. Mr. Will duly noted Obama’s show of leadership through his patience and calm while McCain, after waffling, absurdly called for the firing of the chairman of the S.E.C. But Will also pointed out, ironically in rare unison with Democrat Donna Brazile, that the $800 billion Wall Street bailout will essentially strip the new incumbent president of any new programs he intends to implement once in office. Because Obama has bolder and more capital intensive proposals, his potential presidency would be more negatively affected by the bailout than that of his opponent.

To make a long story short, this all ties into my father’s original argument: this same crisis that helps Obama get elected is also making it more difficult for him to get reelected. The crisis has helped Obama in that it has highlighted his superior leadership skills and McCain’s various blunders and limitations (As Maureen Dowd wrote today, “The people who want English to be the official language of the United States are uncomfortable with their leaders being fluent in it”). But with $800 billion less in the bank, Obama won’t be able to keep many of his social promises. Pulling out of Iraq won’t be easy, and the economy will be in shambles. Good luck getting reelected in 2012. Are you sure, Barack, that you really want to win?

Guess who was on Meet the Press today sounding very presidential , very post-partisan, and very reassuring (and actually rather pro-Obama)? No, not my father. It was New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg.

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Filed under Essays, Obama 08

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