Abroad and at home, it will be the year of a lifetime.
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President Obama can’t and won’t run on his record. Instead, he’ll have a two-pronged approach: First, he’ll try to divide the nation along economic lines, the “millionaires and billionaires” or “the 1 percent” against the rest of us. Second, he’ll argue “it would have been worse.” But the first of these approaches is (like Obama himself) fundamentally against the nature of American thinking. And the second of these approaches cannot withstand the exact same question Ronald Reagan asked in 1980 when running against Jimmy Carter: “Are you better off than you were four years ago?”
Current betting odds (at Intrade.com) give Barack Obama about a 51 percent chance of re-election, along with a 75 percent chance that Republicans take control of the US Senate and a 68 percent chance that Republicans keep control of the House of Representatives. The surprisingly (to me) low odds on a Republican House are a reflection of Congress’s abysmal approval ratings and a suspicion that the election may be as much anti-incumbent as anti-Democrat.
In the 2012 elections, unemployment and economic growth will be the key issues (unless we’re in a shooting war with Iran). But Obamacare won’t be far behind in people’s minds even if the “mainstream” media will refuse to discuss it. Republicans should and will campaign on repealing Obamacare, including getting women (who tend to support Democrats more than men do) to fear loss of availability, affordability, and quality of health care for them and their children. Repealing Obamacare may require a filibuster-proof majority in the U.S. Senate (and will require a Republican president) unless the next president can convince the one or two so-called “moderate” Democrats who may remain after the 2012 elections to go along with the repeal.
Democrats currently hold 23 of the 33 Senate seats up for contest this November and seven of those are retiring, explaining the high betting odds on a Republican majority next year. But a majority is not the same as having 60 votes to overcome a filibuster. Even if Republicans do a good job of convincing voters to support Republicans for the Senate, repeal of Obamacare might not be possible until after the 2014 elections, by which time most of its horrendous provisions may already have been enacted. It is not out of the question, especially given the Democrats’ reprehensible willingness to change or ignore rules to shove Obamacare and other legislation down the nation’s throat, that Republicans will take the good-for-the-goose position and find a way to repeal Obamacare in a way that is not subject to filibuster. We can only hope, but even doing that will require a very strong Republican performance in this November’s elections, including a big enough win for the Republican candidate for president that Republicans can credibly claim a mandate to eliminate the cancer that is Obamacare.
Prior to the elections — probably in June — the Supreme Court will issue a ruling on the constitutionality of major provisions of Obamacare. Arguably there is no good outcome for Barack Obama here: If the Court strikes down Obama’s “signature” legislation, voters will remember not only that Obama, former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid used one dirty trick after another and spent more than year of Congress’ time to pass an unconstitutional, unpopular law which would then lie, as it should, on the ash heap of history. And if the Court refuses to strike it down, the GOP will have a powerful campaign issue arguing to elect enough Republicans to repeal the law.
In the Rasmussen Reports series of polls going back to March, 2010 asking likely voters if they favor repeal of Obamacare, only once has the number been below 50 percent, and that one data point appears to have been an error, with polls a week before and a week after both well over 50 percent. There will rarely have been as anticipated a Supreme Court decision as this one, and for good reason. Obamacare is not just about health care. It is about the nature of the relationship between American citizens and our government, about whether the United States of America remains the nation that Madison, Jefferson, Hamilton and Washington and our many other Founders pledged their “lives, fortune, and sacred honor” to create. It is about whether Americans agree with Barack Obama that our nation needs to be “fundamentally transformed.”
Below the federal level, Democrat governors in big blue states including California, Illinois, and New York — each of which has behaved dangerously similar to Greece for many years — will have to try to deal with collapsing state finances while somehow figuring out how to pacify the union base of their political support. Public sector unions are wholly incompatible with good government and good state finances, but they remain the keystone for Democrats’ elections that should leave Jerry “Moonbeam” Brown, Pat “Tax Hike” Quinn, and Andrew “I acted conservative for two months” Cuomo in quite a quandary.
In Wisconsin, Governor Scott Walker, champion of putting unions back on a leash, will face a recall election. Given the tremendous benefit to municipal finances through the changes he has implemented, I predict a landslide re-election for Walker. (For example, prior to Walker’s changes, teachers’ unions could force school districts to buy overpriced health insurance from insurance companies owned by the unions.) The Orwellian-named Government Accountability Board said in December that it will allow the signatures of Mickey Mouse and Adolf Hitler on the petitions to recall Walker “as long as they are properly dated and include a Wisconsin address.” There’s no such thing as a fair fight when unions are involved, all the more reason that supporters of good government should endeavor to kneecap public sector unions’ finances and influence (if you will pardon my redundancy) across the nation in state and local elections in 2012.
An Obama victory in the 2012 elections would cause stocks to decline and economic growth to slow. And while election results in 2012 might not bring the same chaos that events in Europe or the Middle East seem likely to rain on our heads this year, they remain just as important not just for the future of America but for the entire world. A poorer, weaker America — which Barack Obama manifestly desires — will interact and lead differently than a rich, growing, strong nation would, even as we move wisely if glacially away from the “foreign entanglements” that George Washington warned us against in order to follow the political and economic equivalents of the Bible’s exhortation “Physician, heal thyself.”
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online