During the 1980 election Ronald Reagan famously asked, "Are you better off than you were four years ago?" That was--and is--a powerful question to ask of each Presidential election. In 2008 the question was clearly "no", and both parties essentially ran against the George Bush years. In 2004 the question wasn't about the economy; the "better off" meant "safer", and there was no question that the country felt safer under a Bush presidency than it was going to feel under Kerry. In 2000 the answer was "Yes," and by all rights Al Gore should have won the 2000 election if he hadn't bungled his campaign so badly. And on and on it goes back, through history--the honest answer to that question reveals who will win the presidency (Al Gore's idiocy notwithstanding)
There are many who are asking this question again today, and the answer is a resounding, "No"--as a nation, we are clearly not better off than we were four years ago. If there is any doubt in your mind, visit this amazing painting, and scroll around a bit at the wreckage of the last four years. Median household income is down 5% since he took office, the world's economy--based in large part of the performance of the US economy--is teetering on the brink of disaster. Our allies are confused about US support and our enemies are emboldened due to lack of US action. And on and on and on.
So why isn't Romney winning in the polls? The answer to that second question may be found in this exchange from Sunday's "Face the Nation" program:
Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer: “Can you honestly say that people are better off today than they were four years ago?”
Martin O’Malley, Democratic governor of Maryland: “No, but that's not the question of this election. The question, without a doubt, we are not as well off as we were before George Bush brought us the Bush job losses, the Bush recession, the Bush deficits, the series of desert wars -- charged for the first time to credit cards, the national credit card.”
Schieffer: “George Bush is not on the ballots.”
The Obama campaign wants us to continue to run the 2008 election. They want the focus to be on George Bush's record and the state of the country that he gave to Obama. To be fair, much of the problem that we are facing Obama did not cause, but neither did he fix.
Recently the Wall Street journal reported that Obama intended to remain in "campaign mode" even after the election: [link for subscribers only]
The president views a second term in some ways as a second chance, an opportunity to approach the office differently... He would like to tackle issues such as climate change, immigration, education and filibuster reform. He has told some aides that a sizable mistake at the start of his administration was his naiveté in thinking he could work with Republicans on weighty issues.
I think that there is something very telling in this answer:
- Obama admits his inbility to work with Republicans. Reagan worked with a Democrat-controlled Congress (both houses). Clinton worked with the Republicans after the overturning of Congress in 1994. Obama's admission is tantamount to saying, "I wasn't ready to do the job."
- Obama admits that climate change, immigration, education and filibuster reform are not important issues. They are peripheral issues--valuable in their spheres, but much less critical than the economy or the global war on terror.
So what should the question of this election be? Very simply it should be this:
What one problem can you point to that the Obama administration has unequivocally solved?
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Welcome visitors! I don't write very often, but couldn't stay away during this momentous election season. Hope you enjoy your visit, and choose to stay around for a while. If you are interested, here is the post that started me writing, even sporadically, and my favorite entry.