Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Obama in Trouble

It is still early for November Election time, but things are not going well for President Obama. Here are 4 signs:

3. Way too early explosion of one of the most potent weapons against the presumptive opposition (I am with Joe Klein here, indeed it is bad for Democrats that Bain issue came so early and worst that it would not sink Romney candidacy at this stage as Newt starts backtracking.)

Can Obama do anything to reverse this? I am not sure appointing a devout Jew as the Chief of Staff is going to bring Jews of Florida on board; even if another prominent Jew Opposition Leader likes the choice. It is helpful but way short of what would be needed.

Obama has lot of heavy guns gathered / gathering in Chicago to work out the politics of re-election - David Axelrod, David Pluffe, Robert Gibbs, Jim Messina and now joining Bill Daley. But I am old school, so my prescription is nothing dramatic - Basically, the problem with American Politics in last few years has been 'over reach' and 'misplaced mandate reading' by elected representatives, senators, governors and presidents. Because American politics is so divisive in last few decades (no overwhelming majority for any party or ideology or policies); elected folks are very much tempted to drive a hard bargain and push the ideological envelop as much as possible. Thinking is you never know when you are going to get the next chance to implement your pet policy proposals. This overreach pisses of Americans, for valid reasons, and then we get opposition folks in power. Again they misread the election results and continue the gamble of ramming their pet policies on essentially centrists America. (For those from India - it is Tamil Nadu on national scale; keep switching political parties in power...)

Obama did campaign on the platform of Health Care Reform. But Americans thought that with 2008 recession raging all over the place, Obama would give first priority to fixing Economy permanently (say Tax Reforms and deficits). That did not happen and ObamaCare passed even though it is a helpful policy for Americans in the longer term. To compound the issue Obama failed to defend the utility of ObamaCare - how it helps to reign in the continued health care cost increase. To worsen the problem, he turned to 'mandate' which as a candidate he was not enthusiastic while campaigning against Hillary (who was pro for that). And worst part was the process of making the ObamaCare law - Obama left erroneously crafting of ObamaCare to Congress for too long and engaged in exactly abhorring 'backroom' politics like Nebraska Cronhusker which he had campaigned to avoid as a part of altering the culture of Washington. So in a nutshell, people felt ObamaCare as the overreach, politics as usual and Obama never took the pains to defend it.

Given all this, there will be two things American will be looking for:
- Would Obama take care off rendering a vision where his policy prescriptions are well laid out with a little room for anyone to speculate what would Obama's second term bring and
- Would Obama generate enough trust among Americans to believe that he will stick to this vision rather than wandering to fantasy land of Leftist Policies barring some crisis.

That is the core requirement here. Bashing already unpopular Congress or to chase populist inequality in America - all that is fine but unlikely to bring him the necessary votes. He has to generate the above mentioned trust while continuing to make difference in lives of Americans concretely by executive power driven policy implementations. 

So is he there? Not yet and until then his chances of re-election will continue to dim despite how pathetic Romney candidacy is.

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